MHS fires Volleyball coach
see APPEAL, page 6
On February 9, John Morris was fired after seven years as head volleyball coach for Mammoth High School (MHS). This comes after Morris coached the 2018-19 team to Mammoth’s highest finish in the state tournament in nearly three decades.
Morris said that the reasons that Principal Chris Powell gave for the firing were, “that some of the players weren’t happy-weren’t having fun- and that if I continued to coach some of them might choose not to play.”
One parent confirmed that a group of athletes approached Mammoth Principal Chris Powell and asked him to remove Morris as head coach.
Morris was not given any details as to why his athletes were unhappy with him.
He asked Powell if he was being accused of anything inappropriate, and Powell said that he was not. M
None of the parents that The Sheet reached out to would go on the record about their experience with Morris as coach.
Powell and MHS Athletic Director Heidi Thompson would not give a reason for Morris’s firing, as they said that they are not allowed to comment on personnel matters.
Thompson did, however, send a link to the California Interscholastic Federation’s “Guidelines For Pursuing Victory With Honor.” The 16th guideline, the only one explicitly about coaching, states, “The profession of coaching is a profession of teaching. In addition to teaching the mental and physical dimensions of their sport, coaches, through words and example, must also strive to build the character of their athletes by teaching them to be trustworthy, respectful, responsible, fair, caring, and good citizens.”
Powell said, “I am super grateful for John. Without a doubt our volleyball program is in a better position than it was when he took over.”
Morris said that the firing came as a surprise. “There was no warning,” Morris said. “I didn’t hear anything until the finality.”
Morris asked Powell if there was any way that he could communicate with his athletes to find out what was wrong in an attempt to fix it, and Powell said that it was past that point.
“I’m not frustrated, I’m just sad about it,” Morris told The Sheet.
“This was a great teaching moment. We should teach our kids to advocate for themselves as young people… When you have an issue with a person of authority or a co-worker or whatever, you need to learn the right steps to go to that person, discuss it, and try to work it out.”
“The choice that the administration made is to help perpetuate that behavior which says that, it’s kinda the shiny new penny thing, I don’t like that toy I want a different one. That’s not the way the real world works. Why teach that?” Morris said.
Last year, Willliam Bauman stepped down as head coach of the MHS Girls Basketball team. He was not asked to leave, but said that he felt that his situation was somewhat similar to Morris’s.
“John Morris and I had a similar style,” Bauman said. “We are ‘tellers.’ People nowadays don’t like that.”
Bauman said that a ‘teller’ is someone who, “if you see something going on, you call it out.”
“The culture today, and especially in Mammoth, is if you look at someone the wrong way, they start crying.”
“I could see the writing on the wall. I didn’t want to wait around and get fired.”
In Bauman’s first two seasons with the MHS girls basketball team, they averaged 22 points per game and won six games, in his last two seasons, the team averaged 55 points and won 27 games.
Bauman had nothing but good things to say about Morris. “I got a lot of respect for that man John Morris,” Bauman said. “He took me under his wing as a new coach … He is a man’s man and a professional’s professional – A top five person I’ve ever met … He singlehandedly made this volleyball program. How can that dude get fired?”
After seeing what happened to Morris, Bauman said, “I’m quite happy that I got away from it.”
Morris categorized his coaching style as, “Tough but fair.” Morris coached the Volleyball team to 4 league titles, 3 trips to the CIF semi finals and 2 trips to the state tournaments. Last season the team won 23 games and was undefeated in league play. He said that he is happy to have been a part of this program.
“It’s a great group of kids,” he said. “They worked super, super hard in practice. They have elevated this program to the highest level it’s been in 25 years.”
“I wish the next coach the best of luck.”