We’re back to more messiness with the Corona del Sol football program, and while the kids suffer most, it’s a shame we’ve reached this point — again — at a school with a lot going for it:
Enrollment has remained steady or slightly increased the past few years. The neighborhoods around the Tempe school are relatively affluent. Academics are of good quality and a lot of the other sports programs at the school are thriving/have thrived within the past three years (boys basketball, softball, wrestling, baseball, cross country, to name a few).
Football hasn’t. The school and district whiffed with the Zane Zamenski hiring after longtime coach Gary Venturo resigned after the 2009 season, and the popular sentiment (here included) was Joseph — who’d just been fired at Mountain View — was a no-brainer of a hire. It sure felt that way at the time.
Maybe it still could have been, but we’ll never know. Parents and kids had long complained of Joseph’s practice methods, his sarcastic, very dry personality and his disinterest in adaptation. Then again, he’s won a whole lot in his career and is 55 years old. His style and methods worked nearly his entire coaching career, and he believed his way was about preparing kids for things well beyond football, so why change?
The 0-4 record is a factor here, but it had to have been (or better have been) about more than the record.
One parent of a player said the program went from 100 freshmen in the program when Zamenski arrived in 2010, down to 20 this season. The team dressed 35 kids for its game against Anthem Boulder Creek two weeks ago.
A meeting was held a few days prior to his dismissal with kids, parents, school and district officials. That obviously didn’t go well enough for Joseph.
Joseph was also hired by a principal and superintendent who’ve both moved on, and felt this administration caved into parents and kids, neither of whom he felt were willing to put in the work necessary to become a perennially winning program and regular playoff participant. Injuries didn’t help either, especially with such little depth.
We’ll never get the full story from both sides of this equation, especially from the school/district side as it relates to personnel decisions. But easily the most troubling part of how this unfolded was the decision to make a change on a Thursday (one day before a game) during Week 5. Why couldn’t it wait until Monday? Or after the season?
Joseph will surface again, perhaps as a coach at a smaller school outside the Valley. Perhaps as an assistant around town where he can coach kids without the extraneous off-the-field “busy work” required these days.
The bigger question now is where Corona goes from here. Right or wrong, the school and program has image and perception issues, ones Joseph’s hiring should have helped change in the wake of Zamenski, but has instead become worse.
Given the population, demographics and economics, this should draw significant interest in the offseason, but this is also two football coaches who’ve flamed out in the past four years (self-induced by those coaches or not), and while every hire made anywhere is a gamble, it doesn’t exactly elicit a “welcome” advertisement for the next coaching candidates.
It’s a caution flag for sure.
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.