The End of an Era at Faribault Bethlehem Academy
It's official, former Faribault Bethlehem Academy Head Volleyball Coach Franz Boelter will not be back in the fall to direct the program. Coach Boelter informed KDHL he has taken a position in the New Prague School District as the Junior Varsity Coach and an Assistant to Head Coach Angie Anderson. Coach Boelter said this was the kind of position he was looking for after the drama that unfolded in Faribault in February. He told us he didn't want to be a Head Coach at this time and after meeting with the coaches and administrators at New Prague agreed to the new position.
The Bethlehem Academy Cardinals placed 3rd in Class A at the State Volleyball Tournament last November. On February 9th, Boelter was informed by School President Chuck Briscoe of the decision not to offer a contract for next school year. On February 12th several Bethlehem Academy students stood outside the school protesting the school's decision. Next season's volleyball Co-Captains Olivia Nass and Delaney Donahue were spokespersons for the protesters and told KDHL/ POWER 96 they had not been told specifically why their coach had been released. Just that it was for "unjust manners."
Nass said the protesters wanted to, "Raise awareness to the community and show our support for Mr. Boelter." I asked them if they ever saw any mental abuse and they replied, "No." They added they wanted to have a closed meeting with administration, "To state our opinions. The other side can state their opinions and we can work this out."
I requested a meeting with Dr. Briscoe but was told he was in meetings all day.
The same day, February 12th,
Boelter released a statement. He said the reasons given for the decision not to renew his contract were:
- Emotional mistreatment of student-athletes.
- Lack of concern for all the players that are part of the program.
- Failure as a coach to live up to the mission of the school in treating all students with dignity and respect.
His statement read in part, "Ironically, these are three areas that we have always worked extremely hard on and have repeatedly been complimented on by opposing coaches and fans, as well as the vast majority of past and present players and parents. People have noted how well we treat and interact with our players, how all our athletes seem to completely buy into the concept of TEAM and not ME, and how we all seem to care a great deal about each other as players, managers and coaches. In fact I have spoken at state coaches clinics about these very things and the methods we use to foster them. As a coach it is my responsibility, and my honor, to move our players beyond their self-perceived limits, moving them "outside the box," and helping them to be the best players and people they can be.
As far as living up to the mission of the school, we encourage our players to achieve personal, spiritual, and academic excellence. We talk about the importance of faith and how critical it is to make a positive difference in the lives of the people around us every day. We also talk almost every day about how important each person on our squad is, managers included, to the success of the team. We emphasize that everyone has a critical role, whether it is during practice or in games, and that we are all capable of doing great things that allow each of us to take equal ownership in the successes and failures of our squad.
I have been blessed to serve at BA for the past 34 years in a variety of capacities. I have worked for and with so many awesome kids, parents and assistant coaches. It saddens me that this could be my last year of coaching and that it could end like this."
Each day that week I contacted Bethlehem Academy seeking their side and on February 15th the President/Principal and Board Chair did release a statement which was emailed earlier in the day to to families and alumni.
Here is the statement exactly as written.
Dear Bethlehem Academy students, families, alumni, and staff,
A core tenant of Bethlehem Academy is that every student is loved and respected. We must always place our focus and attention on the students, our learning environment, and the Sinsinawa Dominican values we all uphold.
Last Friday, February 9, we met with Franz Boelter and let him know that a coaching contract for the 2018-19 school year would not be offered. We made this decision based on the best interests of our students and the Bethlehem Academy family. However, due to privacy laws, we are not able to offer any additional information at this time. Our full board has met and reviewed the matter. The board has affirmed the decision not to offer Mr. Boelter a contract.
We know that this is confusing to many, and there is a lot of speculation taking place on social media. As we at Bethlehem Academy attempt to work directly with all parties concerned, we ask each of you for your patience. This is a difficult and emotional time for many in the Bethlehem Academy family. As the Bible says in Epesians 4:2, "Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another."
We will provide more information if or when we are able.
As always, we are yours in service and faith.
Signed Dr. Chuck Briscoe President/Principal and Jim Beckmann Ba Board Chair.
A rally was held February 21, 2018 in hopes of restoring Franz Boelter as the Head Volleyball Coach at Bethlehem Academy. The children of Franz organized the "Fight For Franz" Facebook group and at latest check there were 1,500 members of the closed group. The rally packed the Faribault American Legion and many more watched the live video stream on Facebook. Former athletes, administrators from BA and other coaches from around the area spoke as well as Boelter.
Franz Boelter, 66, was the Head Coach in boys basketball over 30 years retiring from that position in 2014 and volleyball for 26 years at the small Catholic school in Faribault.
The Bethlehem Academy MSHSL webpage does not list a head volleyball coach yet.