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We finally got ahold of the complete letter sent by Andover superintendent Shelley Berman to his subordinates principal Phil Conrad and former AD Don Doucette, instructing them to amongst other things, reprimand his son’s hockey coach Chris Kuchar, as well as make sure all kids played in certain games. It’s important to remember while reading this that:
- Berman denied that this letter existed when asked about it by the media.
- Berman insisted he had nothing against Coach Kuchar and was not suspending him because of negative experiences he had with him as a hockey parent.
- It’s extremely unethical for the superintendent not to separate his role as a parent and the leader of the school district. You can be both, but you can not let your biases as a parent affect your work.
Here it is in its entirety:
If you didn’t wanna read that whole, pathetic, unprofessional, whinathon from the SUPERINTENDENT of schools, here’s some highlights:
- When players “err,” he sits them.
Because apparently it’s bad to bench players who make mistakes, suck, or don’t do their job.
- He created a competitive environment. Those who did not play well were put on different lines.
Competition? The horror!! Good thing these kids aren’t growing up in a capitalist society where they’ll be rewarded based on how they perform in relation to their peers. It’s not like competition ever breeds individual success. Competition is bad because someone loses.
- Less talented players were moved up on lines to prove a point.
Yup, the coach was trying to lose. Definitely.
- Every player should leave knowing the coach “cared about his development,” which did not happen with his son.
On what planet does a kid care if his coach cares about his development? Why are we raising a generation of soft little bitches?
- Coach Kuchar cares about winning above all else.
Winning? God forbid!!
- His son Dale Haavind-Kuchar is a superstar who’s played on all sorts of All-Star teams, including a “Canadian hockey academy varsity team.”
This guy has an uncanny ability to make himself sound important. What does Canadian hockey academy varsity team even mean? Are we supposed to be impressed because he’s attending a school in Canada? Not only is he a great hockey player, he also saved France from ISIS on Facebook!!
- His son wanted to play Division 1 hockey. He currently goes to UMass and does not play.
It’s almost as if he’s not very good.
- Coach Kuchar “broke his spirit.”
Translation – my son was weak and easily breakable. This is the coach’s fault, not my son’s.
- Shelley could only watch from the sidelines because the evil coach does not talk to parents during games.
On what planet do coaches confer with psycho parents who happen to be the superintendent DURING games??
- The coach is insensitive which prevents him from being an effective coach.
Should’ve had more safe spaces at practice so kids could talk about their feelz.
- Dale is a “great asset to the team.”
Dale was a fringe varsity player whose job it was to make sure the bench didn’t fly away.
- He is surprised that Coach Kuchar did not “take the time to get to know Dale,” did not “spend time to talk with Dale about positions, interests, areas of strength, and areas that Dale wished to work on.” Had he done so Dale would have felt more included.
Ya know how many times my high school coaches pulled me aside to talk about my interests? Oh yea, never. Yet I survived and didn’t whine to my Daddy about how the coach hurt muh feelz.
- During a game Dale was on the 3rd line and threw a blind pass that was intercepted. It wasn’t Dale’s fault because he “had hoped that his linemates would have been in that area to receive a pass.” Because this was the system of support that he learned in Canada.
You have to be kidding me. Dale fucked up but it’s not his fault because in Canada passes don’t get intercepted by the other team. It’s not his fault, it’s his idiotic teammates. Keep in mind, this is the head administrator saying this about other people’s children.
- Dale was benched because of this turnover, even though no one else got benched for mistakes. The kid who replaced him made a bigger mistake and didn’t get benched.
A hockey dad who thinks his kid is better than the other kids who took his spot? How original.
- Dale told Daddy that no one was treated as harshly as him.
Well, if a kid tells their parents a completely subjective, one sided version of events it simply must be true. Ya know who falls for something like that? Someone who hasn’t worked in a classroom in a million years. Like a professional administrator who bounces from town to town.
- The superintendent then calls out a ninth grader BY NAME, who took Dale’s spot, and Shelley criticizes the 14 year old for turning the puck over. This upset Shelley because the 14 year old was not pulled as he hoped he would be.
A grown man in charge of the schools is shitting on a child. We had enough class to blur the kid’s name out. What kind of trashy lowlife craps on a 9th grader in order to prop up his own son? How’d you like to be this kid’s parent and know the superintendent thinks your kid sucks? The kid still plays on the team btw.
- Dale felt that putting in the freshman was done to purposely humiliate him in front of the entire team.
- Dale was devastated because 9th and 10th graders played over him for the last 6 games.
Or it was because the freshmen were the building blocks of the future, and Dale was a one year rental they tried to fit in when they could.
- Dale came to the coach to see how he could improve and Kuchar told him how “awful” he was as a player, and listed all the things Dale had done wrong.
It’s almost as if focusing on the things you’re not good at is a more effective strategy than complimenting you for the things you already do well. Better get him a therapy puppy.
- Dale felt targeted because “he felt he was as good as any player on the second or third line.” Thus he no longer felt “inspired” to improve.
Translation – Dale is a loser who doesn’t know how to overcome obstacles. Remember in Rudy when Rudy felt like he wasn’t as good as the other players so he quit the team? Best part of the movie.
- Coach Kuchar had his favorite players who got special treatment.
The classic go to move of every helicopter parent ever whose kid got benched.
- Because the coach hurt his feelz Dale didn’t feel comfortable approaching the coach for advice. This creates “barriers to communication that only undermine a player’s confidence and sense of inclusion on the team.”
- Shelley is an expert hockey coach, and when he coached he tried to boost kids’ spirits and confidence, unlike evil Coach Kuchar.
He also won a freshman certificate while riding the pine on the Wisconsin fencing team!
- Coach pointed out a mistake Dale had made while addressing the entire team in the locker room, and Dale felt ridiculed.
Yup, he should’ve pulled Dale aside and had a private conversation with him during the limited time between periods. Kid’s feelings should be the #1 priority for high school coaches.
- It was hard for Dale to be at a new school.
Dad was the one who chose to move from job to job all around the country, burning bridges wherever he went.
- Because the Coach “picked on Dale,” kids on the team felt comfortable doing the same. Everyone is mean to Dale.
- Dale worried that he might make a mistake which affected his play, because no one performs well when they’re worried about making a mistake. This undermined Dale’s confidence.
Dale is literally the first high school athlete to worry about making a mistake during a game. No kid has EVER had that feeling before. Ever.
- They blew a 3-0 lead against Triton. Dale didn’t play all game because the 4th line never got in. This was a “coaching error” not a “playing error.”
The 4th line should play more? Shelley Berman must be a Claude Julien fan.
- The problem was that the coach had not done enough stamina training during practice, so they got tired out.
This is the same guy whining that the coach is pushing them too hard in practice.
- After the loss the coach had each player write a note explaining why they think they lost. Dale wrote a letter saying that it would have helped if the 4th line got to play. So basically they lost because Dale was on the bench. He blamed the coach.
In other words, Dale has an inflated sense of his own value and was surprised when the coach didn’t wanna be lectured about how to do his job from a 17 year old pissant.
- Before a game against Acton-Boxboro, which would be played in memory of a student who recently passed away, Shelley demanded that the principal tell the AD to tell the coach that every kid gets to get in the game, because he was upset over not playing against Triton. So that “everyone felt included in their memorial to her.”
What???? This is the most unproffessional and unethical thing he’s admitted to in this letter. On what planet does a parent get to dictate to the coach that everyone will play? Most parents could just be laughed at. But not when you’re the superintendent.
- Dale was on his way to practice when he got in an accident on Route 28 but was not injured. The coach saw him, asked if he was OK, and Dale said he was. But Dale was so committed to the team that instead of going to the garage with the car, he went to practice and got a ride with the cops. The coach was insensitive because he did not say, “anything like ‘glad to see you’.”
Oh for fuck’s sake. The coach has to say “nice to see you” now to kids to make sure their feelings aren’t hurt? And why wouldn’t the kid go to practice? Why is Shelley acting like getting in a minor fender bender and getting a lift to practice is almost as impressive as finishing in 4th place in the Big Ten fencing championship.
- It matters that athletes feel cared about.
No. No it does not.
- Dale would come home and tell Daddy that the coach had not praised him for the things that Dale told Daddy that he and done well.
Normally I’d just blame the crazy helicopter parent, but Dale was clearly a whiny little pissant who saw what a lunatic his old man was, knew he had more power than the average parent, and encouraged his father’s inappropriate behavior.
- Dale has played for “far greater coaches than Coach Kuchar,” and was not used to being trained to play “as a soloist.”
Sure he did.
- Kuchar never took advantage of Dale’s immense talents or insights from Canada.
We get it, he played in Canada. Canada is good at hockey. We’re all very impressed.
- As a result Dale was triggered and no longer wanted to play hockey ever again, so he “felt bad about himself.”
In other words, Dale was never really passionate about hockey in the first place and simply was not cut out to play competitive sports.
- He admits that the team did well, but Dale “felt he had no part in making that happen.”
- Shelley admits that “the team did reasonably well this year based on the talent of its members, making it harder to make the case that he is not a good coach.”
That says it all doesn’t it? The team succeeded, but Dale didn’t. This is a bad thing.
- “As a father and a superintendent I can’t let this kind of behavior go unaddressed.”
No, you’re speaking as a father, not a superintendent. Superintendents don’t get involved in how many minutes the fourth line played on the hockey team. Was he this passionate for the kid riding the bench on the basketball team? Or the kid who didn’t make the 4×200 relay team? Nope, just hockey. Because that’s the sport his son played.
- “No excuse can compensate for the sadness I see in Dale’s eyes and feel in his heart.”
- He wants a new coach so that no other kid has to experience this sort of trauma.
Yea Shelley, you’re the first parent to see your kid sad. The rest of us tell our kids that it’s gonna be OK. We teach them that overcoming adversity builds character. We teach them that no matter what happens as long as they give their best effort we are proud of them. Not Shelley though. He whips is hog out and uses his authority to demand a good coach lose his job.
The bottom line is that Shelley Berman needs to go, and Coach Kuchar needs to get his job back with a full apology from the School Committee. Shelley Berman is unfit to run the schools. He has abused his power, repeatedly lied to the media, and used his influence to get favorable playing time for his child.
The School Committee hires the superintendent. Here’s the five members of the SC, their contact information, and the year they were elected:
firstname.lastname@example.org – 2016
email@example.com – 2015
firstname.lastname@example.org – 2015
email@example.com – 2015
firstname.lastname@example.org – 2016
It’s pretty simple Andover people – these five people have to come out on record and condemn the superintendent. Then they have to say that they’re willing to vote to fire him and hire a real superintendent. One that doesn’t lie to the taxpayers and use DCF resources to investigate a guy for benching his kid two years ago.
Just to be clear – all five of these people came out in support of Shelley Berman when he lied about this letter not existing, and lied about the kids going 12 hours without eating:
The Andover School Committee releases the following statement:
“We have been briefed on an incident involving the Andover High School boys varsity hockey team. Our understanding is that the Department of Children and Families is conducting an investigation into alleged coaching practices that would violate the rules of our school district and would not be in the best interests of the students.
“We have the utmost confidence in DCF and in High School Principal Philip Conrad, Athletic Director Bill Martin, and Superintendent Sheldon Berman to conduct full, impartial reviews and present the facts to the public. Until then, we will reserve further comment on this matter, except to reiterate that the Andover Public Schools will cooperate fully in the ongoing investigation and that the health, safety, and wellness of our students and student athletes should be above all else.”
“We have the utmost confidence Superintendent Sheldon Berman.”
They could plead ignorance a week ago when they said that. Not anymore. Now if any of these five stands by him then they are part of the problem too, and they must be replaced. Shelley was hired over a qualified superintendent form nearby Lexington. Mcready, Blumstein, and Teichart were on the SC at the time that hired him unanimously. They screwed up, but now is their chance to make it right. Two of them are up for reelection in the spring:
Two seats will also open this spring on the School Committee. Chairwoman of the School Committee Susan McCready and School Committee member Ted Teichert’s terms both are coming to a close. McCready will be running for re-election.
Let’s be clear – if they support Shelley Berman then they will lose reelection. Your choice. Ask former Spencer-East Brookfield SC chairman Kevin Hayes what happens when you poke the turtle. It doesn’t end well.
Even if you don’t live in the district, email the School Committee to let them know your thoughts on all of this nonsense.