After 15 seasons as the boys soccer coach at Sherwood High School, Hector Morales was let go by the school on Dec. 10. The decision was confirmed by Principal William Gregory and Athletics Director Kathy Green.
Both Gregory and Green said that the school would not be renewing Morales’ one-year contract, but would not comment further on the issue or specific reasoning because it was a “personnel matter.”
Gregory said the school will be advertising the open position in the coming weeks while Morales, who teaches at James H. Blake, said he is not currently seeking another coaching position in the county.
In the extracurricular evaluation form provided to Morales and obtained by The Gazette, the explanation for his release states, “Mr. Morales did not follow policy and protocol of the Sherwood Athletic Department.”
Many within the Sherwood community feel that Morales, who graduated from Sherwood and led the Warriors to state titles in 2004 and 2005, was wrongly dismissed. There’s currently an online petition at www.ipetitions.com with 383 signatures (as of Thursday evening) requesting that Morales be reinstated. A group of soccer parents also met with Gregory prior to the school’s decision not to renew Morales’ contract to request that Gregory reconsider. Morales also said that multiple parents have sent emails to both Gregory and Green requesting that Morales be reinstated.
Morales listed five main reasons that he said were told to him in meetings with Green and Gregory behind the school’s decision not to renew his contract and seemed puzzled that such reasons could lead to the termination of a coach who had been with the school for 15 years.
“It sounds ridiculous, it’s petty,” Morales said. “The fact that I even have to explain it is frustrating to me.”
1. Insubordination: Two years ago at the Sherwood Invitational Tournament, according to Morales, he was asked by Green to play the morning games of the all-day tournament on the practice field and not the stadium field. Morales, instead, played all the games of the tournament on the stadium field, citing the possibility of injury to the athletes by playing on the rough practice field surface for his decision. Morales consequently was suspended one game for insubordination. Morales said he believes that despite this incident occurring two seasons ago, it was the biggest determinant regarding his contract not being renewed.
2. Failure to submit paperwork: Morales said for the first time during his tenure at Sherwood, he failed to properly submit paperwork for a preseason play date and because of it, Sherwood could not collect money from participating schools to pay the referees. Morales said he paid the amount owed to the officials that could not be raised because of the lack of properly submitted paperwork.
3. Water spill: According to Morales, who wasn’t at the school when this occurred, two of his players carried a water cooler through the gymnasium instead of through the locker room on their way to the field. A school employee later slipped on the water and, according to Morales who was told the story by Green, requested workman’s compensation as a result of the incident.
4. Athletics website: Morales said that on Aug. 26 he was asked by Green to change the soccer website he previously maintained and update it to the new format used throughout the county. “They were upset it took me so long to update my roster on the website,” he said.
5. Lost keys: Morales said early in the season, Gregory sent him an email requesting keys to a trophy case that contained the 2005 championship trophy. “His concern was the lack of response to the email and him wanting these keys,” Morales said. Morales eventually called past coaches to acquire the keys.
When asked to cite specific reasons for his contract not being renewed, both Gregory and Green said they could not speak to that aspect of the issue, stating that it was a personnel matter within the school.Morales said Green also told him that “he didn’t get the big picture.” It was a reason he was marked as unsatisfactory in his evaluation.
Numerous parents and community members who have signed the petition offered support to Morales in various ways. Morales also runs various all-star games throughout the county and state and is the treasurer of the Maryland Association of Coaches of Soccer.
“If Bill Gregory came to me and said, ‘We’re going to take you back,’ I would still coach because I didn’t plan on giving it up for another 20 years,” Morales said. “The fact that this is happening is frustrating, to say the least.”