Fruita athletic director: Burke, not Byers, will be interim softball coach

A matter of semantics was clarified Wednesday concerning the Fruita Monument High School softball team.

The issue came to light Tuesday, when Wildcats head softball coach Billy Johnson and one of his assistants, Kevin Chirdon, were relieved their coaching duties by School District 51.

Johnson and Chirdon are both teachers in the school district, but the move affected only their coaching positions with Fruita Monument softball.

The reason for their dismissal was not disclosed. District 51 spokesman Jeff Kirtland told The Daily Sentinel that it was a personnel issue and that he could not discuss the particulars.

Johnson could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon or evening.

On Tuesday afternoon, Fruita Monument Athletic Director Pat Noland announced that assistant coach Tracy Burke had been selected to serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

Another assistant coach, Savannah Byers, was the third-base coach during the Wildcats’ 5-1 victory over Grand Junction on Tuesday night and spoke to the media after the game and acknowledged she was serving as interim head coach.

Noland reiterated Wednesday that Burke will be the interim head coach for the remainder of the season. Byers, Gary Ward and Terry Pacheco will serve as assistant coaches.

“(The head coach) has to be a certified teacher or someone who has passed the CHSAA certification test,” Noland said.

Burke has passed the Colorado High School Activities Association certification test, Byers has not.

Noland said his emphasis is on assuring the team has the opportunity to continue its success.

“My expectations are that Tracy Burke and the coaching staff do what they can to help the girls have a successful season,” Noland said.

“Every one of (the coaches) has told me they are in agreement with that.”

At the end of the season, the position of head coach will be advertised and Noland will interview for a head coach for next season.


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