Source: Sherman Publications

Letter to Editor: Grad says Willis doesn’t deserve to coach

May 15, 2013

My name is Maurgan Deeg and I am a 2011 Oxford High School graduate.

The reason I am writing this letter is to inform the administrative staff of Oxford High School that there is a problem going on as I speak. This problem lies within the OHS Baseball Program. With my experience at Oxford High School, I can tell you what an example of a good mentor, teacher, or coach would be. Professionals such as Brad Keeney, Brandon Rank, Paul McDevitt, Michael Schweig, Brian Edwards, Joe Swoyer, Nicole Barnett, Karen Facca, Josh Budden, David Brown, and Ray Sutherland are just a few qualified educators that know how to approach their jobs as mentors and I have experienced what they do for students and athletes first hand. The OHS staff members I listed above, connect themselves with students, are friendly, fun, easy to approach and overall, they make an everlasting impact on students’ lives.

The Oxford High School Baseball Program has a so-called “coach” who does the exact opposite and the impact he has made on many students lives is a negative one. First off, I want to state that I began writing this letter a year ago, in May 2012, after witnessing inappropriate actions made by Mr. Jeff Willis on several counts during the varsity baseball games I attended. Mr. Jeff Willis was the coach of my brother. I failed to complete my letter last May, in fear that my brother would be benched when Mr. Willis heard someone was taking a stand. This year, we don’t have to worry about him being benched and now I can tell you why Mr. Jeff Willis does not deserve to be a coach for Oxford; a school district with a phenomenal reputation and an overall great place for students to grow, learn and become young adults.

As of right now, if a family with a son who plays baseball was going into high school and asked me if Oxford was a good choice, I would say absolutely not. If he didn’t play baseball, I would say absolutely, one hundred percent send your children to Oxford Schools. This “OHS Baseball Program” makes all the difference. My reasoning behind this is because Mr. Jeff Willis, the “coach” of the OHS Varsity Baseball team is a bully, in my opinion. For a school district with such a strong stand on bullying, I find it ironic the person at the top of the baseball program is not penalized for what I see as abhorrent behavior.

As a family member of two former OHS baseball players and a friend of several former and current OHS baseball players I have not only witnessed some of the things that Mr. Willis has done and said, but have also heard from his players and players’ family members about what they deemed to be his inappropriate, degrading and harmful actions. Using force, name-calling, and anger are not the typical, accepted coaching tactics when dealing with young athletes.

I find it hard to believe that if one of the teachers at OHS was behaving this way, calling students names, using force in any way, or degrading the students with their words it would not be tolerated. Why in the world is it allowed if you are a coach?

The point of writing this letter is not to go on about why Mr. Jeff Willis does not deserve to be a coach for Oxford High School. The Board of Education and OHS administration know why Mr. Willis should not be a coach for this school. They have received countless letters, e-mails, and verbal complaints about this coach. This letter has been written to try to help the future baseball players of Oxford High School. The future athletes do not deserve to play for a coach like Jeff Willis. It is astounding Oxford has not even acknowledged the citizens’ concerns, or taken some kind of action.

I am completely baffled.

Numerous Oxford High School baseball players have quit the sport mid-season while being coached by Jeff Willis. Several have just chosen not to try out because they will not play for him. It was brought to my attention that there was a family that even changed school districts so their son could play baseball elsewhere. What is Oxford’s plan for their students? There is no excuse for allowing this behavior and allowing students to spend so much time with a coach like Mr. Jeff Willis.

Maurgan Deeg

2011 OHS graduate