Mr. Basketball Ch. 13

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“Where are you?” Thom asked me.

“I’m heading to the school. The dean called me and said it was urgent he speak with me. I assume it’s about what happened last night.”

“Fuck,” Thom hissed. “It’s a little more than that.”

“Now what?”

“I just caught wind of something and I was hoping I could catch you before he did.”

“What’s going on?”

“They know you’ve been dating Taylor.”

“So?”

“He isn’t happy about it from what I understand.”

“All I can do is tell the truth and put his mind at ease,” I sighed. “I’m not after the whole team, I’m just with Taylor.”

“Alright,” he sighed. “Let me make a few more calls so I can get more details.”

“Do what you have to do. I’m pulling in now. I will let you know what is up.”

I parked the car and walked into the office to see what this was all about.

“Good afternoon Mr. Tillman,” Mr. Whiteman said standing.

“Good afternoon Mr. Whiteman. How are you?”

“Concerned,” he sighed. “Please sit down.”

“I’m sorry about last night Mr. Whiteman,” I said as I sat. “Things got a little heated but we came to an understanding.”

“That’s not what I’m really concerned about at the moment,” he said quickly. “There’s been a rumor floating around that you may be in a relationship with one of the players on the team.”

“It would only be a rumor if it weren’t true,” I sighed.

“So it’s true then?”

“Yeah, I’m dating Taylor.”

He let out a long sigh. “I see.”

“What’s wrong with that? She’s 18 and an adult. There shouldn’t be any problem.”

“But you are an employee of the school,” he quipped. “That’s a violation of the code of conduct, not to mention it’s highly unethical.”

“It may be but it’s not really an issue,” I said quickly. “I keep my personal life out of my coaching. When I’m there with Taylor I keep it professional. When we are outside of the school…”

“It doesn’t matter Mr. Tillman,” he cut in. “I can’t have this going on at the school.”

“It doesn’t go on at the school,” I fired back. “Her and I don’t do anything inappropriate when I’m here. It’s when we are home that we are together.”

“It’s going to create a distraction,” he barked. “I can’t have this hanging over my head and distracting the students from getting an education.”

“I’m not at the school teaching,” I quipped. “I’m there for two hours a day at the most coaching.”

“You are on the school grounds and that makes you a distraction. If you don’t see this as being a problem then why are you hiding it?”

“Who says I’m hiding it?” I questioned. “Just because I haven’t announced it doesn’t mean I’m hiding it.”

“Either way Mr. Tillman, I see this as a big problem. At this time I am going to have to remove you from the position of head coach and ask that you do not attend any more of the games this season.”

“Seriously?” I hissed. “You’re cutting me loose with two games left in the regular season?”

“I’m afraid so.”

“Who brought this to your attention?” I asked.

“That doesn’t concern you Mr. Tillman.”

“How many people know about this?” I asked.

“Enough people know and that’s going to create a problem. Not a lot but enough.”

“What are you going to tell them the reason is that I’m being fired?”

“The altercation from last night,” he said. “I think that is a pretty good reason in itself to be honest.”

“I said we worked it out,” I quipped.

“But the other problem won’t work itself out,” he offered.

“Ok,” I said shaking my head. “I’ll pack up my stuff then and let Rob know he’s the man in charge now.”

“That won’t be necessary,” he said with a soft smile. “I’ve already made arrangements.”

“So Rob already knows?” I asked confused.

“Rodney will be taking over,” he said smugly.

It hit me just then. The whole reason for Rodney being there was to eventually take my spot. He was looking for a way to get me out and this was his reason. Borderline or not this was the straw that was going to get me out and his boy in.

“I see what this is,” I seethed. “You want me out so Rodney can take over the team and all of their hard work.”

“He’s the best option right now.”

“And Rob isn’t?” I quipped. “Shit, he’s been there for three years now. He knows the system and the girls. Rodney doesn’t have a clue quite frankly.”

“It doesn’t concern you any more Mr. Tillman. Your time here is done.”

“You know,” I hissed. “I was planning to leave after this season anyway. You could have brought me in here and given me a chance to explain and fix the situation. I can see that isn’t an option with you.”

“My actions might seem swift but it’s something I have to do,” he said giving a crooked smile. “It’s time you move on and let somebody else have a shot.”

“Whatever,” I snapped. “Just promise me that you won’t take any disciplinary action towards Taylor. She has a scholarship waiting for her and this is going to screw it all up if she gets into trouble. If you want me out then I will go but you leave ataşehir escort her alone.”

“Taylor isn’t the issue at hand. I just took care of the problem.”

“Are we done here?” I sneered.

“I’m going with you so you can clean out your office.”

“Let’s go then,” I said standing.

We didn’t speak a word as we walked to the gym. It was four when we got in there so the girls were waiting on me. When I walked past them with the dean they knew something was up.

“What’s going on?” Nikki asked.

“I’ve just been fired,” I huffed. “I can no longer coach you girls or attend your games. You girls are taking orders from Rodney now.”

“That’s Coach Whiteman,” Mr. Whiteman barked.

“Over my dead body if you think I’m calling him coach,” I fired right back.

The girls looked stunned as they stood there wondering if this was really happening.

“What about Coach Rob?” Nikki asked.

“He’s not good enough apparently.”

“I never said that,” Mr. Whiteman snapped. “Coach Rob has a responsibility with the JV team and I think he is best suited to stay where he is for the time being. We can evaluate him at the end of the season.”

“What are you going to fire him for?” I snickered. “Because he drives a blue car and school color is red?”

“Mr. Tillman,” he barked. “You need to get your stuff and leave at once. This scene will not be tolerated.”

“What is he being fired for?” Tracy asked.

“It’s a private matter and we will not discuss it at this time,” Mr. Whiteman said.

“I’m dating Taylor,” I said.

“Mr. Tillman,” he coughed. “That’s quite enough. Please get your stuff before I have to call the cops.”

I turned and started for my office. I could hear the collective chatter of the girls as I made my way in and grabbed a little bin. I started cleaning out my desk as Mr. Whiteman stood watching me. In ten minutes I had everything from the past five years in my bin.

“Is that everything?” he questioned.

“Only thing I can’t take with me is my pride,” I quipped. “You ripped that right out from under me.”

I started out the door and saw fifteen players standing by my door.

“Sorry girls,” I sighed. “I don’t know what else to say other than I’m sorry. Play hard and play for each other and good luck. My work here is done.”

“Yeah,” Taylor sighed. “We’re done too. Here Mr. Whiteman.”

I shook my head as she dropped her gym bag to the floor and handed him her jersey. Tessa was next. Then Nikki and Tracy. Within a minute Mr. Whiteman had fifteen gym bags and jerseys piled up at his feet.

“No, don’t do this girls,” I begged. “You guys played so hard all season. Don’t mess this up now.”

“Sorry coach,” Nikki said. “I’m not playing for him. He’s a creep and I wouldn’t spend one minute of my time playing unless it’s for you or Coach Rob.”

The girls nodded their agreement with her as they stood there waiting for his next move.

“Taylor,” I said.

“I know the risk Jake. If it’s not meant to be then it’s not meant to be. Going to Texas with you sounds nice.”

“This is absurd,” Mr. Whiteman cried. “I guess we dress the JV team to play varsity.”

“Yeah,” Nikki smiled. “They are going to be turning in their stuff tomorrow. You don’t have anyone anymore.”

He stood there stunned.

“What you are doing is wrong Mr. Whiteman,” Tracy said. “We don’t think it’s hurting anything having coach and Taylor dating. In fact, we didn’t know for sure whether it was actually happening or not. It’s not like they come out here and make out on the floor every night.”

“It goes against the code of conduct,” he quipped. “I cannot have this on my watch.”

“I guess you don’t have a basketball team on your watch anymore either,” Nikki said sadly.

“Mr. Tillman,” he said looking for me to do something.

“It’s out of my hands,” I said shrugging. “I’m not allowed to be here anymore.”

I turned and headed for the door. Fifteen girls followed me out and never looked back. I drove straight to Thom’s house.

“What happened?”

“I got fired and the team quit.”

“What?” he cried.

“They turned in their stuff and walked out.”

“Didn’t you try and stop them?”

“I did but what was I going to say? They didn’t want to play for Whiteman’s son. They said he’s a creep and I couldn’t agree more with them. I will talk with them again but I don’t think it’s going to change their mind.”

“What the hell is this going to do with Taylor?”

“I don’t know,” I sighed. “I’m sure it’s not going to be good.”

“Dammit,” he cried. “I’ve got to make a phone call.”

Thom and I both paced around trying to figure out what the hell to do. He continued to vent his anger and got on the phone repeatedly talking to anyone he could think of that could help. Knowing Thom, he would find a resolve to the issue rather quickly. He had a couple of days before the next game. I let him work until we all sat down at dinner.

There was nothing said about it at dinner. Thom kadıköy escort bayan wanted a peaceful dinner and made it clear that the issue wasn’t to be brought up until the table was cleared. We made small talk about other things but the issue hung over the table like a black cloud until dinner was over and the dishes were done.

“You need to get out there and play Taylor,” I said after dinner.

“I’m not playing for him. You think we don’t know what is going on here. The rumors have been flying all over school all year long about him and his moves he’s been making. None of us are stupid Jake.”

“But hurting yourself isn’t helping me out,” I barked.

“I wouldn’t mind playing if it was for anyone else but him. I don’t even think he knows what a basketball is. He’s just there because his daddy wants him to be a winner and get his name out there. He can’t do shit if we don’t play for him.”

“I hope you know what you’re doing,” I sighed. “If this messes up your chances I’m never going to forgive myself.”

“You have nothing to do with it Jake. We made a team decision and we went with it.”

I shook my head again.

“Don’t worry,” she smiled. “It’s going to be fine.” She gave me a soft kiss on my cheek.

“I hope you’re right,” I sighed.

The next evening I had a house full of girls over. I wanted to try and talk some sense into them.

“I know this isn’t how we thought this was going to play out,” I said. “But you girls have worked so very hard this whole season to get where you are. I really don’t want you to give up now because of something that has happened that is out of your control.”

“Coach,” Nikki spoke. “If the situation was different and you quit or something like that we wouldn’t have a problem playing on, even if it was for Whiteman. But the thing is he fired you because you are dating an adult. He’s using that as an excuse to get his tool bag of a son into the basketball program. We won’t stand for that.”

“I get where you are coming from Nikki,” I sighed. “But this isn’t the way to go about getting even.”

“What should we do?” Tracy asked. “Go out there and throw the next two games?”

“I don’t think that a good idea either,” I sighed again. “I want you girls to go out there and play hard and finish strong. You guys know what to do out there and Rob will be there to help you along the way. Play for me even if I’m not there.”

“But we do need you coach,” Nikki cried. “Yes, we know how to run the offense and do all the things we need to do to win. You give us that little boost of encouragement when we need it the most. You help us through our struggles and give us pointers on how to make us better. You have something, a gift for the game that neither coach Rob or Rodney have. You make basketball fun and more than just a game. We need you there.”

I didn’t know what to say at this point. I never realized the impact I had on them until now.

“Ha ha,” Thom cheered walking through the door. He was pumping his fists in excitement.

“Oh shit,” he said startled. “I didn’t know you had guests. I was wondering what all the cars were doing in the driveway.”

“I’m trying to talk some sense into them,” I sighed.

“Well hold on just a minute,” he smiled. He could hardly contain himself. “I just got off the phone with Mr. Hart. He has called an emergency meeting at the district office tomorrow evening at six to hear the facts and figure out what is going on.”

They were all quiet as they waited for something more.

“Geez,” Thom laughed. “Come on girls, this means Jake might get his job back.”

Now they cheered.

Thursday evening I found myself at the school board headquarters in a meeting with the superintendent of the school district. Behind me were the 30 girls that formerly played basketball, most of their parents, and members of the community that I had grown to know very well over my time here. On the other side of the room Mr. Whiteman sat there waiting to explain what had just happened. Mr. Hart called the meeting to order.

“I called this special meeting to address the situation that has arisen with the dismissal of the head basketball coach and the entire team, both varsity and junior varsity, quitting,” Mr. Hart started. “Both parties involved will get a chance to speak. I want this meeting to be orderly and fair.”

“Mr. Whiteman, please explain why you have dismissed Mr. Tillman and why I have no basketball team.”

“A few days ago it was brought to my attention that Mr. Tillman was in a relationship with one of the players on the team he coaches. I brought him in to question him on the matter and he admitted to dating Ms. Tilly. I felt that this would create an unwanted distraction at the school and a black eye to the district if I looked the other way and let this sort of behavior continue. I dismissed Mr. Tillman from his position based on what the code of conduct states. It says that staff and students shall not engage in such activities.”

“I also believe that it is morally and ethnically escort maltepe wrong for this type of behavior to be conducted between a student and a staff member. Clearly, Mr. Tillman must have known that this was a violation since he was trying to hide his relationship with Ms. Tilly from everyone. This is another reason I felt it was necessary to remove Mr. Tillman and assign the next best fit for the job.”

“That would be your son for the record,” Mr. Hart said.

“Yes, Rodney Whiteman is my son and the best fit to coach the team at this point in time. He has been with the team since the beginning of the season. He knows how to follow the rules and be a coach and not date the players.”

“Mr. Whiteman,” Mr. Hart sighed. “Comments like that are uncalled for and will not be tolerated. Please continue but choose your words more carefully. This is not a circus act, this is a formal hearing to find the facts and get a resolve to this issue.”

“To address the issue of the team,” he continued. “I had no control over the situation and the team made the decision to quit. I believe that Mr. Tillman had a role in that choice and although there is nothing we can do legally, it does leave yet another black mark on our school. I believe his deep seeded involvement with Ms. Tilly has made many of the players fear backlash from her and her family if they continued to play for another coach.”

“Mr. Whiteman,” Mr. Hart interrupted. “This is pure speculation on your part. I know Thom Tilly has strong ties to the community as does Mr. Tillman. I do not believe that this is part of the facts in this case. We are going to stick with the facts that we have before us in this case. You terminated Mr. Tillman because you believe that he violated the code of conduct by paid teachers and staff.”

“Yes and that this is morally and ethically wrong for this to be happening in our schools,” Mr. Whiteman added.

“I have taken note of that Mr. Whiteman.”

“Mr. Tillman,” he said turning to me. “Let’s hear your side of the story.”

“Thank you Mr. Hart,” I said. “Before we go any further into this investigation I want to make it clear we are talking about Taylor Tilly and not Tessa Tilly.”

“Yes,” he smiled softly. “That would make things a lot different now wouldn’t it? Taylor Tilly is the Ms. Tilly we are referring to for the record. Please continue.”

“The fact is simply really. I’m dating Ms. Tilly. I’m not going to sit here and deny that fact. That would be morally wrong of me to do that. What I can tell you is that when I am at the school with those girls, I am solely focused on coaching and molding them into better adults through the promotion of team building and life lessons. It might appear that basketball is just a sport but there is a lesson about trust and teaching that you must play well with others in order to succeed.”

“I keep my private life off the court and out of the school. When I am on the school grounds I act only as a coach and remain professional throughout my time while I am there. It is only when I am off the court that I express my feelings for Ms. Tilly. Ms. Tilly and I are both adults and are committed to each other. It may raise some questions, I won’t deny that fact. Hiding our relationship will only raise more questions. We have made no effort to hide what we have. We have only kept it quiet so the focus is on basketball and the team as a whole and not on two people. The girls were quite shocked to find out I was dating Ms. Tilly and even more shocked that I was being removed for that reason.”

“As far as the team quitting, I have tried over the course of the past few days to get them to reconsider the choice they have made. The fact is they do not want to play for Mr. Whiteman under these circumstances. They would be much more inclined to return if Mr. Rob Hill was to coach them for the remainder of the season. The girls are not blind to the fact that Mr. Whiteman has made a number of changes to the staff and policies at the school as a whole. They feel that this is one more change to suit the needs of Mr. Whiteman.”

Mr. Hart shifted around and I knew he was going to say I couldn’t say that so I spoke quickly to lessen the blow but still keep that fact out there.

“I know that is hearsay, but nobody can turn a blind eye to it.”

“That’s absurd,” Mr. Whiteman cut in. “Throwing out false attacks is just an effort to deflect the issue at hand.”

“Mr. Whiteman,” Mr. Hart barked. “Please keep quiet and hold your comments to yourself.”

Mr. Hart turned back to me. “Mr. Tillman, you have spoken to the team about returning?”

“Yes sir. They don’t want to play for Mr. Whiteman.”

“Have you made any off color remarks that would suggest some sort of backlash as Mr. Whiteman put it?”

“The only backlash that is going to come from this is towards Ms. Tilly. I’m sure you are aware that she has had several scholarship offers to colleges. This is going to be a major setback and quite possibly the end of her chance to play at the next level. As far as threats to the students, I have made none and I have only begged them to return to play. I want them to play for themselves and each other. I even suggested they play for me in spirit even if I’m not there to coach them. I cannot get them to budge from the position they have taken.”

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