Diamond Controversy: Baseball coach Cassidy Olson went from Mira Costa to Redondo and back
Interpretations of the hiring policy of the Redondo Beach Unified School District (RBUSD) put first-year head baseball coach Cassidy Olson in the middle of a controversy.
After long-time head coach Tim Ammentorp stepped down, Olson was the popular selection for the position, endorsed by Redondo High’s Athletic Director Les Congelliere and Principal Mary Little, along with RBUSD Superintendent Dr. Steven Keller.
Olson, 33, teaches history at Mira Costa and was an assistant under Mustang Head Coach Mike Neily for six seasons before serving as an outfield/hitting instructor at Harbor College in 2008. After his hiring, he quickly began a fundraising campaign that tripled the program’s donor base, was instrumental in the initial steps of the building of an Alumni Wall of Fame and helped form the new booster Diamond Club according to Diamond Club President George Wassil.
Enter Brady Thurman, a teacher at Parras Middle School in Redondo Beach and former pitching coach for the Sea Hawks under Ammentorp who had also applied for the head coaching position at Redondo High. Thurman threatened legal action after, according to Thurman, “someone had placed the Ed Code in my mailbox over the summer” prior to the 2008-09 school year.
The controversy stemmed from the wording in the RBUSD code — which differs from the California Education Code — that states: “Any certificated teacher employed by the district who applies for a position as a temporary athletic team coach and who satisfies the qualification criteria established for the position shall first be offered the position.” The California Education Code states that the position shall first be made available.
Despite opposition from the Diamond Club and numerous parents and players, Thurman was granted the position by the RBUSD in an out-of-court settlement with the stipulation that Olson could complete the 2009 season, thus preventing a mid-season disruption of the team.
Olson wasn’t off the diamond for long. Despite recording over 300 wins as a high school head coach, Mike Neily was released from his position as head baseball coach at Mira Costa at the end of the season and the job given to Olson. Neily had led his teams to the CIF playoffs in 16 of his 18 years as a head coach. ER