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Polk resigns as Tesoro volleyball coach in protest
Tesoro girls volleyball coach Rich Polk and his entire staff resigned Thursday, leaving the program and its season in limbo.
Polk, the Register’s Orange County Coach of the Year in 2012, informed the team’s players of his resignation following a controversy over the selection of players for the junior varsity team.
Bruce Bates, who has been involved with the girls volleyball program at Tesoro for several years, said Polk was upset that Capistrano Unified School District officials asked him to hold another set of tryouts after parents confronted the district, angry about their daughters being cut from the junior varsity team.
Bates said district officials told Polk that other volleyball coaches from the district would conduct the tryout and would select the rosters for the varsity, junior varsity and two freshmen squads.
It was then that Polk resigned. Bates said in an act of solidarity, the rest of his staff resigned as well.
“Everybody is devastated,” said Bates. “But I think on behalf of himself and every other coach in the district, he had to take a stand.”
The resignations put a hold on the Titans’ season as they are currently with a coach. Tesoro had to forfeit a match Thursday against Mission Viejo and will likely forfeit upcoming matches against Woodbridge (Tuesday) and Beckman (Thursday).
The program’s freshman tournament scheduled for this weekend was canceled.
“The view from many parents is that this could cause a slippery slope situation,” said Bates. “What happens if a parent is not happy that their son was not named the starting quarterback? It’s a very dangerous precedent to set.”
Polk, Tesoro High and district officials were not available for comment.
Polk has coached the girls program at Tesoro for 10 years. In 2011, he guided the Titans to a South Coast League championship and led them to the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2AA semifinals. In 2012, Tesoro advanced to the semifinals in Division 1AA.
In 2012, Polk coached the Balboa Bay Volleyball Club’s U16 team to a national title. He has also coached as an assistant at UC Irvine and Capistrano Valley, and he was the boys and girls volleyball coach at Foothill in the late 1990s, and the boys coach at Woodbridge.
“He’s a great coach,” said Bates. “We stand behind him 100 percent.”
Team members said they were distraught over the news.
“He’s been such an inspiration to us,” said three-year varsity player Macy Looft. “He not only teaches us about volleyball, but about life as well.”
“He’s the best coach I’ve ever had,” said two-year senior captain Sierra Bates. “To hear him say he’s resigning is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever heard.
“But at this point, our my main focus is to realize the fact that no matter how much we want him back, he won’t be coming back. As a team we’ve got to move on and hopefully find another coach that comes close to as good as he was.”
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