Friday, June 20, 2008

Quiet in Claremont

It's somewhat surprising that nothing has appeared in the local newspapers or even the blogs about former Claremont High School baseball coach Mike Lee, who was not retained as the school's baseball coach for 2008-2009.

With all of the attention that came with hi
s arrival, and a bit more in the local blogs during the season, it's a surprise the Claremont Courier or Inland Valley Daily Bulletin haven't even mentioned it. The news has evaded the likes of the prep columns in the L.A. Times and the prep bloggers...

It's probably good that they aren't making a big deal about it, because nobody needs to be put on display in front of the world when things don't go well. Let's hope it stays somewhat calm until the new coach arrives.
The impression I get is that CHS and CUSD administrators are already looking for a replacement, but that they will publicly post the position and go through the search process. No word on when they hope to have a new coach on board, and it's unclear if they are looking for a baseball coach who will also be a teacher or coach in the school district. Lee coached PE and is reportedly returning to that role for one more year.

I hope the new coach will continue Lee's concept of assembling a real baseball program from top to bottom, and will bring together players and coaches from the varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams not only for practice, but to teach fundamentals and team goals. The thing that was missing -- and apparently has been missing for several years and can only be established over time -- is a program that focuses on developing players through the ranks. For example, players at the freshman and junior varsity levels should get the kind of instruction that prepares them for what the coaches want to see at the varsity level. Practices need to be instructional and productive. That was certainly lacking at the freshman level this year. The team was successful, and won the Baseline League title, and the coach was a nice guy and a decent game manager, but the team's practices were not productive and the players didn't learn and develop the way they should. Aside from a handful of players who play for good coaches in the offseason, the freshman team was lacking in fundamental instruction. That's primarily because there simply wasn't enough staff to run the type of practices they needed. When the coach got extra help from some volunteers, the players were able to make more progress.

The overall program should be paying attention to players all the way down the line, so those kids will be ready to play at a higher level. All of the coaches throughout the program need to be on the same page with the same goals. My observation is that, while the players worked out together at the start of the year, that's where the common teaching techniques ended. There is a great coach in place at the JV level, and I hope Bob Smith stays on in that role. He's doing a good job with the summer American Legion program, and he brings a lot to the CHS teams.


Anonymous said...

It's not realistic to expect Coach Lee in his 1st Year to coordinate the Freshman , JV and Varsity practices and have every one on "the same page". A LOT of 1st Year HS Baseball Coaches would lose their job if they were held to that standard.

I suspect there's another reason Claremont High decided not to renew Coach Lee's coaching contract. I doubt if we'll find out the real reason since the school is quite embarassed about hiring Coach Lee (because of the stuff in the the LA Times article).

The other reason we won't find out is because the local newspapers are scared to death of the high school.....apparently the high school (Deven Freitas)threw a MAJOR hissy fit when some neagative articles about Coach Lee's background were printed last fall.

If Ms. Freitas had done her homework we would have a coach with one year under his belt looking forward to his 2nd season as Wolfpack Baseball Coach.

Anonymous said...

Now we are going to blame Ms. Frieitas? Wake up – whiny parents are the real issue & problem with Claremont Baseball. Claremont is looking for their fifth coach in five years. The program will never be successful until they get a coach who tells the parents to shut their mouths and an administration who is willing to back up their coaches (which apparently we do not have). Any coach who steps into this program should have their head examined!

Anonymous said...

Claremont and Mike Lee were a good match - he lasts about a year or two wherever he goes and Claremont coaches last about a year!

Mike Lee is now the former coach at Claremont, Newberry Park, Santa Paula and Westlake - all in about 5years. I guess the parents at all those schools were the problem! LOL!

Anonymous said...

did coach lee get mad when a player came to practice in his "game" pants?

we heard he made the player take his pants OFF and practice in his sliding shorts.

why do baseball parents put up with that stuff?

Anonymous said...


You wrote about Coach Lee "he's a good guy and decent coach but probably better suited for a different situation where the expectations and personalities are different".

Please tell us WHERE Coach Lee would be a good fit. He's been run out of some very good high school programs. Newberry Park fired him....he was forced out of Westlake when parents found out he was sending text messages to the players ( like "I Love You" and "b#*# me" -slang term for oral sex-). The LA Times CONFIRMED all this when they obtained his Westlake file under the Freedom of Information Act.

So WHERE would Mike Lee fit in as a high school baseball coach?

Maybe at a school where the players and parents think it's okay to make a player practice without his pants on?

The Booster Club Board supported Lee even after they were made aware of all the problems he had at Westlake and Newberry Park. Sid, do you think the players who had to put up Coach Lee's immaturity and temper tantrums are glad the Booster Club supported Coach Lee?

The only guy who seems to be capable of making good decisions here is our principal. He wasn't involved with Lee's hiring and he was smart enough to get rid of him.

Thank you Principal O'Connor.

Anonymous said...

Hey anonymous, O'connor not only was on the board to hire Lee, He was the final say in it. Get your facts straight. The booster club didn't hire anybody.

Anonymous said...

sorry about that anonymous......I thought the decision to hire Lee was made before Principal O'Connoe came on board.

I still say Congratulations to Princiapl O'Connor for getting rid of Lee.

Hey, is the story about making the kid take off his baseball pants true?


Anonymous said...

All of you continue to blather on with out any real first hand knowledge.

Move on.

It's just a blog and one person's opinion that the program overall grew in a positive direction.

It did.

Claremont is no picnic to work for. I sit in those stands and am astounded at the appauling, controlling, pampering, enabling, entiteling, whining, "my kid's not getting to play his position" on and on....comments continually made by the PARENTS. Never the kids.
Butt out, and maybe, just maybe you will actually raise men, not like so many of the spoiled brats we saw this year.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately for Claremont, their “hatchet man” principle and “milquetoast” athletic director just empowered those few disgruntled parents & disrespectful players. Good luck next year!

Anonymous said...

where can i find the la times article everyone keeps talking about?

Anonymous said...

Here is the Times article:

and also this:

Anonymous said...

The Baseball program will continue to fail it's players and it's parents until the Booster's get their noses out of an honest, stable coach's responsibility by picking the team through writing the biggest checks.

Mike Lee should never have been hired. Of course, maybe he was just a scapegoat until the real prospect becomes available. Who know's anymore? The politics is ridiculous. This town is full of red-herrings.

Anonymous said...

Everybody has to tippy toe around Lee because he is lawsuit happy. After a parent identified him for what he is at Newbury Pary High School he sued that parent Fick. You can find the case of Lee v.Fick on the net in which Lee took another loss in that lawsuit(whats new?) How about google of his name and finding a Channel 3 video in Santa Barbara interviewing Westlake STUDENTS/Players who tell the real deal. Too bad the Claremont Lee supporters refuse to do their homework in favor of the Text messager.

Sid Robinson said...

Editor's note... As was correctly pointed out previously by another reader, the booster club is not involved in on-field decisions, including the hiring of a coach or the selection of the team. All families are invited to be part of the booster club, and the board simply oversees the club's fund-raising and other support activities. As a newcomer to Claremont baseball, I really didn't see the politics in play. I wasn't blind to the controversy, but that was a different issue, and the booster club was removed from that.

Anonymous said...

The booster club is not removed from the controversy. The Trolli's (booster club president) were Coach Lee's biggest supporter on day one and continue to be despite all the problems Lee had at other schools and at Claremont.The booster club president tried to convince the school to keep Lee as coach. That means the booster club was involved.

Heres a question for Lee supporters. Would any of you hire someone who had been fired or forced to resign from their last three jobs (in a 5 year period)?

one more question. why does Coach lee always go to a school where the parents are the problem?

Sid Robinson said...

It's too bad that so much of the issue here is lost in people's hate. It really is time to get over it and move forward.

Unfortunately, there were mistakes made, but the problems have been addressed. The issue is only staying alive because people have chosen to remain hateful and not move forward.

Let's be clear. The job of a booster club is to "boost" a program put in place by the administration -- with fund-raising and enthusiasm. That's it. The booster club or its board never took a stand with respect to the coach. Any opinions were those of individuals representing themselves and their families. Simply because somebody serves on a board doesn't mean they aren't entitled to their own opinion. The board president was clear in separating herself in this issue as a parent and not a booster club representative.

It's also important to note that the experience was not the same for everybody. I heard the input from the players and families, and there were plenty of positive comments, too. Again, people had different experiences. And there is no question the coach did a lot of good, even if some people refuse to see it.

But it's over now. He definitely made mistakes along the way, and his behavior and judgment were not always the best. I trust the administration took everything into consideration and made the right decision regarding the future of the baseball program.

But to excuse the kids who were problems is inexcusable and irresponsible. Aside from anything the coach did, there were very obvious problem families and problem kids. I hope those people will someday take responsibility for their own actions and realize that they were equally to blame.

Let's put this one behind us now. It's history and the issue has been addressed. Absolutely nothing good will come from more whining and complaining. It's time to move on.

Anonymous said...

coach lee will still be at the school for at least a year. if coach lee doesn't take another coaching job lets hope our new coach asks coach lee to be his pitching coach.

i agree with most of what you said sid. but if your a parent and the president of the booster club you probably have more influence than most other parents.

Anonymous said...

Coach Lee has many good traits as a coach. He understands the game, he runs a good practice, is adequate as a game coach and he manages the after season and before season activities reasonably well. All that being said coach Lee is not fit to coach in any HS program because his negative character traits far outweigh his positive personality traits. He has been pushed out of a series of high profile jobs leaving equally high profile problems behind. He should not have been hired in the first place last August, at least not so soon. Hopefully he will use this latest career hit to take stock of his life and make necessary changes .

Anonymous said...

no he won't

Rebecca said...

This is very odd to me, because I haven't really heard about or talked to anyone associated with Coach Lee in years. I just came this posting haphazardly today.

Let me tell you firsthand... I played for Coach Lee, not in baseball, but in girl's basketball. Deep down, he really does want to do positive things for his students and players, and he is a very capable coach. Unfortunately, he gets too emotionally involved with his players - not in an inappropriate way, but nonetheless, in a way that negatively affects his ability to coach. He does not work well with needy parents, but in the recent past, he has worked for wealthy programs where this is the case.

I can tell you that Coach Lee has yelled at me, berated me and made me cry. I'm sure he thought all of this was helping me to become a better, tougher player at the time. I wasn't the easiest player to coach (and that's an understatement) He didn't treat everyone this way. To be fair, he also motivated me in positive ways and gave me some great advice when he took the time to sit down and talk to me face-to-face. Many of the conversations I had with him had a lasting impact on me and my personal & athletic growth.

Overall, Coach Lee could be a great asset to many programs. I think he has a lot of personal exploration to do, but I also think that being in an aggravated situation (like Claremont, Westlake, Newbury) just makes things worse for a coach -- for ANY coach who chooses to teach there. It doesn't sound like he is a good match for this program, but I don't think people should dismiss him altogether.

Anonymous said...

"I just came this posting haphazardly today."

How in the world did that happen. How does a former athlete, I assume from Ventura County, just find a local blog in a town 75 miles away? How does that happen?

Anonymous said...

Well, it's really refreshing to find that you got the point out my post, "anonymous".

To answer your question, a relative of mine told me that he read an article about Claremont & Coach Lee and suggested that I read it. While searching for the article, I came across this post. The word "haphazardly" does imply randomness, and since I was looking for something else on a related topic, I do suppose that "unintentional" was the correct choice of wording. My sincere apologies. The point was that I was not trying to dig up dirt as some of the other people posting on this blog may have been. I was honestly just offering an opinion on a public blog.

Maybe the real question is "why do you care how I came across this post?" -- obviously you are someone with a vested interest who has a reason to question it. Not too hard to figure out.

Anonymous said...

I don't care.