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Archive for January 24, 2007

Jan. 24, 2007 — Small town, small minds

Basking Ridge, N.J. is an area in the north-central part of the state which is most well known for being the headquarters of Bell Telephone when it was a monopoly.

But it may also be better known as the center of a bitter squabble over Ridge High School’s field hockey coach.

Mollie Reichard has turned Ridge into a perennial contender for state championships, having turned around a floundering team into one with purpose, focus, and success. Ridge got to the state final in 2005, earning her a nomination for United States Coach of the Year.

Some on the school board don’t like that. Valerie Goger, the superintendent of schools, has made her intentions known not to rehire her, and a number of school-board members, according to The Bernardsville News, are in lock-step with her.

It’s not the first time that school boards, feeling threatened by a powerful woman in their midst, have shown a desire not to re-hire a sports coach. Heck, it even happened to the Federation’s all-time wins leader. It also happened to a coach who went on to win state championships as an assistant at Martinsville Pingry School (N.J.), a campus which is but a few miles from Ridge.

But to have it happen to Mollie Reichard is truly strange. She’s been at it only three years, but she has already been to a state final, has coached a national-teamer in the club team she belongs to, has fostered tremendous unity amongst her players and her parents, and totally understands the role of a successful field hockey team in a community.

Too bad the Bernardsville Board of Education can’t say the same.