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Wesley Chapel doesn't rehire basketball coach

Girls coach Richard Pokorny, who had applied for a full-time teaching position, was surprised when told that he would not return to the school in the fall.

By JAMAL THALJI

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 13, 2000


WESLEY CHAPEL -- Now the Wildcats need a girls basketball coach, too.

Richard Pokorny, hired just days before the start of the season in November as girls basketball coach and as a temporary teacher at Wesley Chapel, is no longer with the school.

The circumstances of his departure, though, are in dispute.

Pokorny said he accepted the job of girls basketball coach and as a temporary learning disabilities teacher in 1999 with the understanding that he could apply for a full-time teaching position the next school year. He said he interviewed for a science teaching position this summer, and expected to be back in the fall as girls basketball coach.

But principal Andy Frelick called him last week and told him that both the teaching position and girls basketball coaching job had been filled. Since Pokorny was a temporary service contract hire, the school was not obligated to bring him back.

"I was ... not pleased," Pokorny said. "It was kind of a shock. I thought I would be back. I made plans to be back."

Frelick, when asked Wednesday about Pokorny's departure, would not comment except to say he is no longer with the school. He said the school lost Pokorny's previous position, and another teacher was hired to fill the science job Pokorny applied for.

However, Frelick told the Times the girls basketball position had not been filled.

Pokorny said Frelick gave him no reason why he wasn't brought back.

So now, both of Wesley Chapel's basketball positions are open. Former boys coach Conrad Foss stepped down in May and was hired on as an assistant coach at Saint Leo University.

Days after Foss left, the majority of his team was disciplined by school officials for misconduct during road games, including incidents of theft. Foss denied it was related to his departure.

Frelick said he is close to naming a successor.

Wesley Chapel finished the season with an 0-24 record, and went winless in Class 3A, District 6, losing all eight district games.

After preseason losses to Zephyrhills (55-9) and River Ridge (57-19) the Wildcats lost their season-opener 80-7 to Dunnellon on Nov. 22, but the team showed great improvement in its rematch with Dunnellon later in the season, losing just 47-31.

"We got better, and I was looking forward to this season," Pokorny said, "and I think the ground work has been set, where they can be successful and be a very competitive team.

"And the girls were wonderful."

Pokorny said most likely he will go back to teaching middle school science in Hillsborough County and hopes to coach girls basketball again, as a head coach or assistant. He has interviewed at King for the head girls basketball coaching position there.

"I'm going to miss the girls more than anything," he said. "I'll be following them in the paper, and I'll try to get to some of their games."

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