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Successful, respected hoops coach ousted over allegedly using profanity in locker room

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

A legendary Pennsylvania basketball coach has been fired despite significant public protest to try and save his job in connection with his alleged use of foul language in the school's locker room before games.

As reported by the Chambersburg Public Opinion, the Chambersburg Area school board voted for Chambersburg (Pa.) Area Senior High boys basketball coach Shawn Shreffler not to return for the 2012-13 season, bringing an abrupt end to the coach's 15-year run at the school. Across that decade and a half, Shreffler built up an overall record of 241-150. Even more impressively, he helped Chambersburg reach the playoffs in 13 of those 15 seasons and won two district titles, including one in the recently completed season.

While the full reason for Shreffler's dismissal as coach has not been publicly announced, the Public Opinion reported that the board's review of his position was a late addition to the school board's agenda after allegations of the use of profanity in the locker room during the 2011-12 season were raised.

Evidently those allegations were all it took to oust one of the more accomplished coaches in the region, despite the firm protests of the coach's existing players and some of their parents.

"He has never attacked a player with vulgar language," Chambersburg senior basketball and baseball player A.J. Maun said at the meeting, which he reached after completing a baseball game. "He respects everyone and he's a great human being. He's being bamboozled."

Added fellow senior basketball player Skyler Roman: "I have to admit I've heard curse words in the locker room, I've heard curse words in the hall and in class," Roman said. "Heck, even I let a few fly on occasion."

The loudest voice in opposition of the coach came from the mother of a former player, who essentially accused the now-former coach of playing mind games with his players.

"It's more than profanity," Kim Fore, the mother of former Chambersburg basketball player Tyler Fore, told the meeting. "I know kids use it, adults use it and I use it as well. What he's saying to players is abuse. He's humiliating them and calling them out in front of the other players."

Those players, along with nearly 3,000 others, have joined a Facebook group supporting the coach with the aim of having him reinstated at the school.

The decision to end Shreffler's rein at the school led to almost immediate backlash from those near the program and some in the media. Patriot-News columnist Geoff Morrow rapidly came to the coach's defense, accusing the parents who were quietly behind Shreffler's ouster as being motivated by lack of playing time for their sons.

Here's how Morrow classified the parents who he felt were behind the coach's dismissal:

… if this can happen to Shreffler, no coach is safe.

Any whining parent or fan with the right connections can push for similar oustings as long as they find a sympathetic ear.

My solution for these types of parents (who, despite them often shouting the loudest, are heavily in the minority): Home-school your kid. Because nobody will ever be good enough. This way you can save yourself — and everybody else you try to drag down with you — a ton of aggravation.

Shawn Shreffler is genuinely a terrific person and coach. It's not like these folks were attacking scum.

If this situation doesn't make you sick and even scare you a little bit, you're not paying close enough attention.

Indeed, the premature ending to Shreffler's coaching career -- he will continue to serve the school district as a fifth-grade teacher -- has raised a number of questions about a quiet school district and what was long considered an overly successful basketball program.

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