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After state trip, Platteville volleyball coach may be replaced
Parents accuse verbal abuse and bullying
pla vb updike
Yvette Updike has led Platteville to a 18381 record, one conference title and one trip to state in her seven years as the varsity volleyball coach. - photo by Photo by Jason Nihles

After Platteville High School played in its first WIAA volleyball state tournament in 20 years one month ago, a group of parents of the 2014 team are trying to get the team’s coach fired.

The mother of one team player accused coach Yvette Updike of verbal abuse and bullying of players at the Platteville School Board meeting Nov. 24.

However, other parents, one player, one former player and a number of other people expressed support for Updike at the meeting.

After an executive-session discussion of more than an hour, the School Board took no action on Updike’s employment as the volleyball coach.

Platteville Public Schools superintendent Connie Valenza said Tuesday the position will be posted this spring. Coaches do not receive year-to-year contracts, Valenza said.

“Whenever a coach makes a decision, they have the good of the whole team in mind,” said Updike at the meeting. “To have all of this stripped away is pretty disheartening right now.”

Updike described the complaints as “orchestrated.” She said she received a threatening text message right after Platteville’s loss to Waukesha Catholic Memorial at the state tournament Nov. 7.

The O.E. Gray gym was filled with players and their parents, along with PHS staff and supporters of the program.
Julie Phillips, the mother of one player, said “abuse, verbal abuse and bullying” and “harassment, both to players and parents” had gone on “over the past eight years.”

Another parent, Joe Carroll, called it a “difficult situation for everyone involved,” and said it was “not about wins and losses; it should be if they have a positive experience that they can take for the rest of their lives.”

Carroll called the season “not a positive experience for my daughter.”

However, another mother, Renee Baker, called the season “a positive experience for my daughter.” Baker said she had “not seen anything to warrant coach Updike of being relieved of her duties.”

Another mother of a player, Lisa Emendorfer, said there were “mistakes made by a majority of people in this room. … Coaches coach, players play, and our job as parents is” to tell their children “how much fun we have watching her, and where do you want to go for dinner.”

Emendorfer said complaints were made in the spring, and asked, “What happened with that? Was there follow-up? Where there administrators in the gym during practice evaluating what was going on?

“If you choose to let coach Updike go, I will be disappointed. … We don’t get to say athletics mirror life if we’re going to coddle everyone.”

“I’m friends with everybody in this room, I love all these girls, and this breaks my heart,” said Sally Woodworth, another team mother. “We as parents could have talked more about this together and come up with new solutions” instead of having the meeting.

“Volleyball is a player’s game,” said Rachel Emendorfer, one of the Hillmen players. “I’ve had major problems with coach, and I’ve felt comfortable talking to her about it.”

“Through my years of playing under coach, she yelled at me, but looking back at it I deserved it; I didn’t know what I was talking about,” said former player Julia Lawinger. “Looking back I had such a great positive experience, and I want other girls to have that.”

“As a 16-year-old girl it’s very easy to focus on the negatives, because we’re all focused on what we can’t have or can’t do,” said Sharon Bartels, whose daughter, Mackenzie, played for Updike, graduating in 2013. “Life doesn’t always go their way. Let’s look at the positives.”

“What kind of message are we going to send?” asked Curt Timlin, who coaches Platteville youth teams. “Let’s rise above all this stuff … let’s let teachers teach and coaches coach.”

PHS teacher Mark Ludlum, who formerly coached girls basketball, called the players “all fantastic kids,” but added, “Coaching in Platteville, we have a tough time finding spots sometimes. … You do not go to state by mistake.”

Volunteer coach Bill Wagner, who played under Jerry Petitgoue at Cuba City High School when the Cubans won Petitgoue’s first state title, said he had been asked to coach, and refused a paid position because of “parents stabbing everybody in the back all the time.”