Letters to the editor
February 20, 2002
(Editor’s Note: Due to the heavy volume of letters received on the “soccer charges,” the Sun reminds readers of our submission rules: All letters are run in the order they are received. This means it may take several weeks for your letter to run. In addition, in order to fit in as many letters as possible, we are strictly holding to our 300-word limit for letters and other submission guidelines as outlined on page A7 every week. Some letters printed may have been edited for length to fit closer to the 300-word limit. This editing has been done to eliminate redundancy and comments already made in other letters. We want to allow everyone to have their say on this issue, and will run as many letters as possible in the coming weeks.)
Community members sign letter of support
To the editor:
To the students, the town and the Truckee Police Department: we are completely outraged by the “Coach charged with providing alcohol” article in the Feb. 7 Sierra Sun.
As members of the varsity soccer teams, family members and classmates we cannot believe all of the public disturbances that have been caused by this incident. We understand that the use of alcohol by minors is not permitted under any circumstances, but it has and will be an expected occurrence for centuries.
Furthermore, the community and the TPD should realize that this occurrence was handled with the highest possible amount of responsibility and maturity. These “children” took keys away; no “child” drove away drunk. These “children” respected the house the party took place in and each “child” cleaned up any mess that was made.
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The TPD has not gained the respect they may have been aiming for, nor have they gained any further control of the drinking “problems” of Truckee’s minors. After interrogating each team member and stating that they were not trying to get any one in trouble but wanted to prevent similar things from happening in the future, the TPD combined all of the “he said-she said” information to completely slander two helpful, honorable and highly respected coaches and a very supportive parent.
Their attempt to protect the community’s minors has only torn them apart, and brought to themselves a town’s disrespect, lack of trust and lack of support. We give our full love and support to those three beloved community members and their families.
Letter written by Kristine Bena and Darcy Spencer; signed by more than 145 other individuals
Town has big problem with teenage drinking
To the editor:
Wake up school board, school superintendent, school staff and parents. A soccer coach gives his assistant coach money to buy alcohol for the boys’ and girls’ soccer teams so they can celebrate a winning season. There is absolutely nothing ok with that. It is illegal.
Mike Holman taught great soccer, he taught my boys many years ago, but what he did was wrong. Whether he is acquitted or not doesn’t matter, he has admitted what he has done and should no longer be allowed to coach. You can’t have coaches supporting teenage drinking.
Regarding the statement against the Truckee Police Department, a parent stated that “this is another example of people coming in from an outside community and not making an attempt to understand this one.” The Truckee Police Department understands this community just fine. It understands that Truckee has a big problem with teenage drinking and with parents that support it. What did this parent intend the police department to spend their time doing, if not to enforce the law? What could be more important than the safety of our kids?
The Truckee Police Department is getting blamed, just as the Placer County Sheriff’s Department were last year when they arrested students at the senior prom for showing up under the influence of alcohol. What was the reaction of many of the parents then? Pretty much the same reaction as with this incident: parents felt the law enforcement went too far. I am sorry, but I don’t agree. Accepting teenage drinking and drugs abuse as normal is not right. We need to teach our kids that you can have a good time without being drunk or on drugs!
Police investigation of kids questioned
To the editor:
We knew as soon as the soccer teams had won the state championships that they were going to want to celebrate. We as parents made a choice collectively to have a safe, controlled environment for this celebration. This was a closed party and these kids were all to stay the night. Close to 80 parents were OK with this. Only one complaint was filed.
We feel in no way should these three men alone be held accountable for this incident. If anything we should learn from this and as a community come up with some ideas to educate both parents and students.
We have known Mike Holman and Mark Ross for many years through our common commitment and dedication to our children. Ironically both of them are non-drinkers and have always let kids know how they feel about drinking. Eric Jitloff is also a class individual with a bright future ahead of him.
We also are very concerned with the way this whole investigation went down. Students were pulled out of class and questioned without parent knowledge or approval. Officer Richner showed up at our house during the Christmas holiday, while my husband and I were at work, Richner asked to talk to our daughter Natalie and questioned her in our home without our knowledge. I was outraged. When I questioned him why he didn’t call to set up an appointment, he couldn’t understand why I was so upset. He was in full uniform he said, like that was supposed to make me feel better. He said he didn’t have my phone number, yet he sure was able to find out where I lived. Then in his authoritative voice he said, it sounds like there must be some underlying thing to make you so upset. No, I’m just looking out for the safety of my family. Some of the mixed messages that Officer Richner is giving to both parents and students need to be addressed.
If there are some better ways of doing what we did, let’s get together and discuss them. It’s our job to keep these kids safe and alive.
Tom and Julie Pratt
Charges against men should be dropped
To the editor:
We are parents of a member of the Truckee High School Girl’s Varsity Soccer Team. Between the two of them, Mike Holman and Mark Ross have spent more than 20 years encouraging the youth of our community to uphold the ideals of good sportsmanship and athleticism.
Mike Holman has had a strong, personal interest in the well-being of the members of his team. We appreciated Superintendent Pat Gemma’s supportive comments in the article which aligned with our views of Mike Holman’s character.
It is ironic that in his second year of coaching this team, when Holman brought them to the state championship game and won, that story didn’t make the front page. This is a sad statement about what is considered newsworthy.
This incident does not reflect the character of any of those implicated. Our daughter attended that party with our permission. We knew that the spirit of the evening was one of celebration, not over consumption. We believed that all the kids who were there and the adults who had knowledge of the party had one idea in mind: the teams were celebrating. Unfortunately, we can’t always have that feeling of confidence when our children have their many unsupervised social functions. That night our kids were safe. We feel sorrow that Mark Ross’s acceptance of our trust has turned into this horrible burden.
It is our opinion that in an effort to address the perceived problem of teen alcohol consumption in our community, some men of high character with strong commitments to the betterment of our community have been wrongly singled out. Although a great deal of damage has already been done, it is our hope that all charges against Mike Holman, Mark Ross, and Eric Jitloff can be dropped.
Jan and Dave Theis
Parent was trying to keep kids safe
To the editor:
I’m writing this in response to to the charging of three adults with contributing to the delinquency of minors. I am as shocked and dismayed as much of the community, but I am also remembering numerous school, parent and community meetings with the focus being uncontrolled underage drinking and the enthusiastic cry of “something must be done.”
Well, something was done and now many of the people previously asking for action are mad. It’s a complex issue and I certainly don’t pretend to have the answers. I do not think it’s using three reputable members of the community as scapegoats.
Our teens are faced with difficult drug and alcohol decisions on a daily basis and we need to help them want to make safe, healthy choices. Ultimately, they need to take responsibility for their actions. To drink, responsibly, irresponsibly or not at all ends up being a very personal choice.
Modeling appropriate behavior has always been one of the most powerful teachers and I believe Mark Ross has been an excellent role model. I have known and respected Mark for 10 years. He has always been a kind, fair, responsible and caring parent, friend and coach. This, of course, doesn’t excuse hosting a party with minors drinking. He would be the first to admit it was the most unwise thing he has ever done. But I do believe his intentions were to keep the kids safe. Mark was sitting in a cold car at the end of his driveway while the parents of 40 partying teens were most likely sleeping soundly in warm beds.
I truly believe Mark was not “contributing to deliquency” but was being realistic in thinking that many of this group planned to celebrate by drinking and he would do his best to keep it under control and as safe as possible.
Community should stop pointing fingers
To the editor:
After reading the Sierra Sun story of Feb. 7 “Coach charged with providing alcohol,” I can only agree with the mother who was quoted as being “sad and enraged.” But perhaps for different reasons.
I am sad that the coach, struggling with a tangled quandary of “what-ifs,” chose to sanction a lame beer blast celebration.
I am enraged that the community reaction is to start finger-pointing the blame at anyone except “our” darlings.
There are lessons to be learned from this
To the editor:
I would hope that this community would not start a condemnation campaign regarding this issue. We must all remember that there are always two sides to a story.
I am sure that most parents do not condone underage drinking, but we would have to live under a rock to think that it doesn’t happen. I am a mother and a grandmother and I raised three children through the ’60s and ’70s and I am now watching four grandchildren go through the same things. Certainly there are lessons to be learned from this incident and those lessons should apply to everyone.
To lose people that are out there day after day trying to help our kids would be a loss to the entire community. Perhaps what is needed is more volunteers willing to give their time and energy to help create and help with programs for our kids. Just go to any school-based meeting or groups that are volunteering their time and energy and you will see the apathy and lack of participation that exists. Now is not the time to point fingers, it is the time to pull together and educate.
Truckee has problems just like every other community in this country, but from what I have seen and heard, our kids are open and honest regarding their behavior. Let’s keep their trust and lines of communication open and work together to keep them safe.
Positive role models needed for kids
To the editor:
I am writing in response to your article on the district attorney’s decision to file charges related to the soccer team party. I have known Mark Ross and Mike Holman for over 15 years. I can’t think of any better role models for our community’s young people. Neither consumes alcohol. Both have a total commitment to their kid’s well-being.
I don’t doubt our new police chief’s desire to fight crime in our community. Teenage drinking must be discouraged. Yet, somehow I feel these charges are inappropriate. Heavy-handed, Barney Fife-like tactics aren’t going to solve the problem. Common sense tells me the solution starts with parental involvement and is reinforced with positive role models (like Mike and Mark) and educational programs (like DARE). Ultimately, it comes down to decisions made by our kids. Keeping our kids safe and helping them develop the ability to deal with real world issues seems more important than placing blame. Welcome to small town U.S.A.
Adults should take responsibility
To the editor:
We clearly have a situation in our community that requires delicate handling. Our sensible actions and pro-active decisions at this point can set local precedent for a long time to come.
First of all, no adult should ever provide alcohol or drugs to a child at any time for any reason. The bottom line is this: teenagers are in the process of growing from children into adults. What children experience during adolescence can imprint patterns of behavior for the rest of their lives. The earlier a person starts smoking, drinking or using drugs, the harder it is for that person to stop or control that behavior as adults. These early outings of excess can become lifelong battles for control. By the same token, good habits developed during this same period can also become lifelong attributes.
That said, where does the real responsibility lie? Take away the coaches’ participation in this incident and it is no different than a dozen such parties during the year. So where are your kids? Who are they with? What are they doing?
Hearing that many parents knew that their child went to this party “but didn’t drink” sounds a little like smoking but not inhaling. I think that every parent whose kid went to the party in question or any party is responsible for their activities.
There was incredibly poor judgment exercised in a lot of areas in this incident. This includes the coach and the host parent, but could also include the whistle blower, the police department and the district attorney. Who is being served, and how by this action? Will losing a championship coaching staff make this all better?
We have a choice here. I hope every parent whose child attended this party is ready to go to court with those charged and say, “Yes, I am responsible.”
Police department work supported
To the editor:
I am writing in support of the work being done by the Truckee Police Department. It is important to be sure that our local kids get the message that drinking and drugs are not okay. It takes a unified effort, including the parents, schools, and the police to deliver and enforce this message. Only by working together and delivering the same strong message will the kids understand that the message is not a joke.
The police have stepped up to the plate, acknowledging the seriousness of these issues, and are doing something about it. I am with you all the way.
Police should not intimidate kids
To the editor:
EWe do not condone teenage drinking or drug use, but I think this matter has been blown way out of proportion. Mike Holman is a very concerned coach and father, and cares very much for the girls and boys he has coached. I am shocked to hear what happened, and I feel it was a mistake, but to punish him the way they are talking about just doesn’t make sense to me. Truckee High would lose a great, caring coach, and the team will suffer.
Why did it take over one month for this to become an issue? The party was in November, the complaint wasn’t till mid-December. How do the Kulaks know what went on at the party, and how much was drunk, and who got sick when they weren’t there?
I would like all the adults to think back to when they were teenagers. Did you ever go to a party where there was alcohol being drunk? Were there adults there? I doubt it. We went to school in the 1940s, and I went to many parties like that. I didn’t drink, because I didn’t like the taste. There were never any parents there. My children grew up in the 1960s and ’70s in Los Angeles. They may have tried some things, as teenagers will do, just to show their independence. We all did it and we all lived through it with no mishaps, thank God.
My concern is also that when the police go into a house and speak to a youth with no parents there, it should not be allowed. Pulling kids out of class to interrogate them at school should not be allowed. The police went too far and that is why the parents are so mad, as they should be. The police are here to protect us, not intimidate us.
Soccer player voices support
To the editor:
My name is Melanie Rodarte, and I am a 15-year-old student at Galena High School. I have played and am currently playing soccer for Mike Holman.
Playing for Mike Holman was and still is the best thing that I have ever done, and I am proud to be playing with him again this year. He taught me how to become a better soccer player, but most importantly how to become a better person. Mike taught me how to listen to people and how to become a good leader. Mike isn’t only a great coach, he is a great person. He took a group of girls from Truckee, Douglas, Carson, North Tahoe, Verdi, and Reno and made a team. He taught us how to get along with each other and how to listen to one another. Whenever a member of his team has problems, he is there for them and talks to them. He is one of the best coaches that I have ever had.
I read the article talking about the recent charges against Mike Holman, and I was disappointed to realize that the article failed to mention how good of a person and coach he is. It failed to mention that his coaching skills and his team’s hard work won them the state title.
I was also disappointed to hear that he resigned from his coaching position at Tahoe-Truckee High School because I know that the girls on his team will miss him, and the school will be missing one of the best coaches in the soccer community. Thanks, Mike, for being such a great coach and person.
DA was correct to file charges
To the editor:
I don’t believe the things that I have read in this paper in the past two weeks. Coaches, and parents buying and furnishing alcohol to minors and discrediting our police and District Attorney for not turning the other cheek after a complaint was filed.
Roy Richner worked with the Dare program for the Placer County Sheriff Department prior to joining the Truckee Police Department. He has a strong and long background with fighting youth drinking. I commend him and the Truckee police in their efforts to do what they are paid to do.
Most people in this community would rather not receive a ticket for speeding, running a red light or failing to make a complete stop at a four way intersection, but if you break the law the police are paid to enforce them.
The DA is required to file charges on things that come across his desk, not to turn his head because it was a state championship coach involved.
Just because the football team may have had a party as well (maybe that should or will be investigated next) doesn’t mean that it is all right.
Don’t rush to judge defendants
To the editor:
EThis case presents troubling issues about lapses in judgment and planning. Equally distressing was the reaction by some community members to the investigation of these activities by local law enforcement officials. However, several things should be kept in mind:
1. Laws were broken and our police department should not be condemned for investigating and recommending prosecution of alleged criminal activities, regardless of whether those activities were thought to be the lesser of two evils, They are doing the job which we have hired them to do.
2. The charges leveled that the police department is using questionable tactics including interviewing minors without the knowledge and presence of their parents, is troubling and deserves to be fully investigated. Those investigations should include a public component. If the allegations are found to be true, our elected officials should take firm action internally to correct these law enforcement methods. The public should be informed as to what measures have been taken.
3. Our system of justice is designed to take into consideration in the sentencing process the background of the individuals involved, their devotion of time and energy to our youth, whether there were mitigating circumstances for their conduct, and other factors. We have judges and probation officers experienced in these matters. They are not insensitive to the concerns and desires of the community. Trust them enough to permit the process to work.
4. Despite the extensive coverage, we simply do not know all of the facts. And, now that the coaches have been charged with crimes, prudence and common sense force them to remain silent for the time being. We must wait for the facts to emerge before drawing any conclusions.
I have been acquainted with Coach Holman for many years. He is a good man. The coverage and some letters have unwittingly served to besmirch the reputation of a man who deserves far better. In this case, we should condemn the act, but not the man.
Robert F. French
Reno business not a local one
To the editor:
I just read the section in the Feb. 14 paper entitled “Our Town, A Tribute To Local Business.”
I can’t believe you would have a business from Reno included in this section, even though I know they are a big advertiser in your paper. They are not a local business by any stretch of the imagination.
I have lived and worked here for over 20 years and try to support our local business whenever possible. I think this shows a lack of respect for our town and establishments that also sell furniture in Truckee. You know Truckee D “Our Town.”
(Editor’s note: The business profiles in “Our Town” were all paid advertisements and the Reno Furniture Gallery paid for the placement of their ad.)