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Coaches are hired to be firedPosted Friday, March 12, 2010, at 10:21 AM
Dan Fidago is shown during his days as varsity girls basketball coach at Eastern Greene High School. He led the Lady Thunderbirds to the 2008 Class 2A Sectional title, breaking a 23-year tournament drought, and they won a girls regional game for the first time in school history. (By B.J. Hargis/Greene County Daily World).
In my two-plus decades in this business, I have seen good men and women cast away like yesterday's newspaper. Most of them found other coaching jobs or continued their careers as high school teachers.
Most coaches are strung along with one-year contracts, something the teacher's union can't touch because coaching is classified as an extracurricular activity.
Sometimes even winning isn't even enough to keep your job. Just ask Jim Coon, who was fired after winning the boys basketball sectional in 1987 at Sullivan. From what I was told, somebody with power was upset about his son taking up a starting spot for the Golden Arrows.
Carl Miller was the last coach to win a boys basketball sectional championship at Linton-Stockton in 1982. He did not coach another season for the Miners, something about a contract dispute, if I have the story straight. He went on to have a successful career on the sidelines, including a stay at Western Boone.
On Monday night, Dan Fidago's resignation was accepted by the school board at Eastern Greene.
Fidago was let go after five seasons of coaching the Lady Thunderbirds. His record was 42-75, including 17-18 in the Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference.
"To say the least, I was disappointed that things turned out the way they did," said Fidago, who will remain as a mathematics teacher at Eastern Greene.
Critics might point out that the Lady Thunderbirds never had a winning record under the leadership of Fidago, including going 9-11, 11-13, 12-16, 1-21 and 9-14 from 2006-10.
But that 12-16 record in 2008 included some historic achievements. The Lady T-Birds were champions of the Class 2A Bloomfield Sectional. They avenged regular-season losses to North Knox and the host Cardinals on their way to the first sectional title in 23 years and third in school history.
They even survived a tornado that went over Glover Gymnasium shortly after defeating Linton-Stockton in overtime in the sectional opener two years ago.
After they gutted out a 33-27 win over Bloomfield in the sectional title game, they went on to beat Covenant Christian 49-44 at the Forest Park Regional. That was the first regional victory in the history of the EGHS program. Like all Fidago's team, they battled and scrapped for 32 minutes before losing a 67-62 decision to Class 2A power Austin in the regional final.
Fidago's troops fell on hard times the following season, winning just once in 22 games. But seven of those losses were by single digits.
There was not no ounce of quit in that team. They were beaten by Bloomfield 46-25 during the regular season, but EGHS led the sectional favorites at the half of their meeting at the Linton-Stockton Sectional. It was a competitive game until the fourth quarter before BHS prevailed 38-25.
Unless someone is at practice every day or travels with a team, fans and media only get a skewed view of the inner workings of a sports squad. Because of that, winning and losing is magnified even more.
All I know is that Dan, a former boys varsity coach in Ohio, always was the same, win or lose. His teams were going to play man-to-man defense, which is a statement in itself.
He was professional and did not make excuses. If his girls stunk up the joint or played great, he said as much. He never shrank from the truth.
He understood the coach-media relationship as well as anyone I have known, and did anything with his power to help me and my associates and at the same time promote his team.
He relished the fact the Lady T-Birds played one of the toughest schedules in the area, something else that contributed to the W-L record.
Fidago said ideally he would like to coach boys again, but realizes the economy has affected the teaching industry as much as any.
"I definitely want to coach again. I love it too much," said Fidago. "But it is tough to find teaching and coaching jobs these days. And selling a house wouldn't be easy in this economy either.
"My wife has a good job and that is part of it too. I would consider taking an assistant job somewhere. We will just have to wait and see how thing turn out. Whoever steps in here, I wish them and the girls nothing but the best."
B.J. Hargis is the sports editor at the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 847-4487, ext. 12 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Eastern Greene
Year -- Record, SWIAC
2006 -- 9-11, 4-3
2007 -- 11-13, 4-3
2008 -- *12-16, 3-4
2009 -- 1-21, 1-6
2010 -- 9-14, 5-2
Totals -- 42-75, 17-18.
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