Hawkins and Andrulis: Hey Region 20 what’s going on?

Why?

What’s best for the student-athletes?

Region 20 Board of Education where are you?

You have every right to ask those questions and every right to expect an answer concerning the issue of the apparent plan not to hire long-time coaches Brent Hawkins and Rob Andrulis for positions this fall in the newly created Lakeview High School.

Unless you have been living in outer Moldavia you night be aware that a firestorm has erupted over the apparent decision not to hire Hawkins as coach of the boys and girls cross country teams, a position he has held for 31 years at Litchfield High, and Andrulis, who has guided the boys soccer team at Litchfield for 23 years, as Wamogo and Litchfield regionalize to become Region 20 in the fall.

Regionalization while created for a multitude of positive benefits is a complicated process. Transitions take time. You hope for smooth as adjustment road begins. This isn’t it. This is an element of sandpaper with the feel of a road of winter potholes.

The sad thing is it doesn’t have to be. Nothing is official yet.  While both Hawkins and Andrulis have confirmed that they have been told by Lakeview athletic coordinator Kyle Weaver that they will not be coaching in the fall the process is far from complete.

Weaver and a group of school administrators will recommend coaching appointments to Superintendent Christopher Leone who in turn will put the names forth to the Board of Education for approval. So, there is time. But don’t hold your breath.

While Hawkins and Andrulis were notified of the decision by Weaver (current A.D. at Litchfield High), it would be hard to imagine that the move was made without Leone’s knowledge. It would also be hard to imagine that they would be naïve not to expect the resulting fallout once the decision became public. All of which would lend itself to the idea that the situation will not change.

But, this is a head-scratcher at best and has a bad aroma to it at worse. Coaches have a lousy deal to begin with. One-year deals only exercised when schools want to show a coach the exit door and in the case of a merger of schools there is no protection for teachers or coaches.

There were no guarantees that either coach would be hired for the positions. But the resumes of each guy scream hire me. And you wonder what the justification is for not hiring them. You have better qualified people? Hmmm….really?

So you wonder why and you wonder how this is best for the student-athletes.

Andrulis while chafing has offered up no public comment. Hawkins, however, has no answer to either question.

“We were notified by a phone call (from Weaver) and it sounded like he was reading from a script,” Hawkins said. “He just said they were pushing for someone else. I was in shock. I just kind of hung up. It was like thanks for coming in and your interest in the program. “

Hawkins and Andrulis did go through an interview process twice by panels consisting of Weaver, students and school administrators and parents.

Hawkins has been the boys and girls cross country coach for 31 years. His girls teams have won six state titles, a quarter or the school’s total of 24 state titles, and eight Berkshire League championships. He has had a multitude of All-BL runners and college runners.

As for any possible black marks during his tenure, he doesn’t know of any.

“I haven’t done anything wrong, heck I don’t even show up late for practice,” Hawkins said. “(Andrulis) and I are two of the most dedicated coaches to coach.”

This is also a guy who has repeatedly given back to the community as former Litchfield Recreation Director, major force in the Possum Queen event on New Year’s Day that has raised hundreds of thousands dollars for worthwhile causes.  He is also a major attraction and the announcer for the Litchfield Hills Road Race.

Sounds like a guy you would want to be your cross country coach both for his running expertise and an example of community involvement. His list of recommendations includes a number of world class runners, including Olympic medalist Rod Dixon.

Andrulis only has 23 years in as head boys soccer coach. A Litchfield High grad, he has amassed a 234-140-30 mark. There are 22 state tournament appearances that include a final and four semifinals. His teams have captured five BL titles. He has helped produce both All-American players (Tim Donovan) and All-New England selections along with multiple All-State and All-BL players.  

Andrulis has been honored as the 2018 CT Coaches Association Class S/M Coach of the year. He has also coached track and field at Wamogo.  His resume includes recommendations from Wamogo A.D. Mary Stolle among others.

Sounds like a guy you would want to be your soccer coach. Sounds like two guys who have given a lot of heart, soul and time to the student-athletes of Litchfield High School.

Well, guess what? Brent Hawkins is not going to be Lakeview’s cross country coach and Rob Andrulis will not be on the sideline guiding the boys soccer team unless there is a change of heart or decision. Even then, damage has been done.

And you wonder who is better qualified than Hawkins and Andrulis.

So you have every right to ask why. You have every right to ask how this is best for the student-athletes. And you certainly have right to demand transparency and with that comes an answer.

Regionalization requires the blending of multiple schools and cultures. It takes time and it is not easy. Well, guess what, it just got harder and it didn’t/doesn’t have to be.

For Superintendent Leone who has stated he is not involved in the vetting of coaches, challenging this would be appropriate. For the Region 20 Board of Education, time to get involved if not already and figure it all out. Don’t just rubber stamp this.

For Brent Hawkins and Rob Andrulis – a job well done over the years. You already deserved better. Your absence will be a loss.

Two coaching hires does not a merger make. But this is not exactly a rousing start.  

Wamogo and Litchfield are going out in style after long service to their communities. IF only Region 20 could the make same claim about its beginning as those two schools can make about their endings.

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