The family and friends of former Faribault Bethlehem Academy coach, teacher and administrator Franz Boelter are hosting a retirement party for him this Sunday in rural Faribault.  Boelter's son Brett and daughter Bethany say there will be a brief program at 4:30 p.m. with the event starting at 4:00 p.m.  They simply want the event to be a fun filled evening of "laughing, reminiscing and fellowship."

Boelter was planning on retiring from his administrative duties at the private Catholic school at the conclusion of last year and was going to keep coaching volleyball for a few more seasons.  In February school President/Principal Dr. Chuck Briscoe informed him the school would not be renewing his contract to coach volleyball at Bethlehem Academy.  The school said they had received some complaints from players and wanted to go in a different direction.  Reasons listed by Dr. Briscoe included, "Emotional mistreatment of student athletes, lack of concern for all players in the program and failure to live up to the mission of the school to treat all students with dignity and respect."

At the time Bethlehem Academy Board of Directors Chairman Jim Beckmann told KDHL, the decision not to renew Boelter's contract was the President/Principal of the school's "decision to make."  Beckmann said BA policy says, "The only person who can make a hiring or firing decision is the President/Principal."  He added the Board of Directors hires the President/Principal.

The Board of Directors is comprised of 15 members and six of them serve on the Executive Committee.  Beckmann is on the Executive Committee and said a couple of their members were at the meeting where President/Principal Dr. Chuck Briscoe informed Boelter of their decision.  The letter informing Boelter of the decision was signed by Dr. Briscoe and Beckmann.

Beckmann told KDHL, "We have complete trust and confidence in Dr. Briscoe to make the appropriate employment decisions for Bethlehem Academy."

The meeting with Boelter occurred on Friday, February 9th and on Monday the 12th some students held up signs of protest on a cold morning at the front entrance to the school.  I spoke with a couple of the protestors.  Olivia Nass was a junior and said the protestors wanted to, "Raise awareness to the community and show our support for Mr. Boelter."

I asked them if they ever saw any emotional or mental abuse and they collectively replied, "No."  Nass continued, "He's fought for us multiple times in games and it's just our turn to do the same for him."

Delaney Donahue (who has since left the school) said, "It's a mistake firing him because he's a really good coach.  He teaches about more than just volleyball.  He teaches us life lessons and says our faith and family should be first and second followed by education before sports."

At the time Donahue and Nass were the Co-Captains for the 2018 volleyball team and said they wanted to "work this out"  by having a closed door meeting with those who complained about the coach and administrators so everyone could "voice their opinions."  As far as I know that meeting never happened.

Franz's children started a "Fight for Franz" facebook community that grew to over a thousand members in just a few days.  The group held an event February 21 at the Faribault American Legion with hundreds in attendance.  21 people spoke at the event and Coach Boelter thanked them saying his family felt "blessed" to be a part of the Bethlehem Academy family and he wanted to see alumni "get their school back."

Franz Boelter is in the Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame and Minnesota Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.  Since 2002 his volleyball teams had 7 State Championships, the most recent in 2014.  Last fall the team placed 3rd and in that time frame they also have 4 second place finishes at state.  His career head volleyball coaching record is 603-165.

Boelter was the boys basketball coach for 34 years also after spending his first six years at Medford.  When he retired he was 7th on the All-Time winnings list in Minnesota Boys Basketball with a record of 613-290.

In June Boelter said he had accepted a position as the Junior Varsity and Assistant Varsity Volleyball Coach at New Prague High School.  He told KDHL it was the kind of position he was looking for and he would always be rooting for the students at BA.

A preseason Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association poll had Bethlehem Academy ranked 9th in Class A.  Fellow Gopher Conference member Waterville-Elysian-Morristown was rated #1.

Barn at Crocker's Creek is located about 7.5 miles southwest of Faribault at 24141 Bagley Avenue.

Barn at Crocker's Creek Faribault. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld
Barn at Crocker's Creek Faribault. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld

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