Community voices anger at release of Fenton HS soccer coach
A group of students, parents and community members is expressing outrage at the unexpected dismissal of a longtime boys soccer head coach at Fenton High School.
More than 20 people attended the Fenton High School District 100 school board meeting Monday to show their support for David Alvarez, who says he was notified June 16 that he was being fired from his coaching position and his job as an IT coordinator for the Bensenville school.
Alvarez said Monday he didn't know why he was let go after serving his alma mater for more than 10 years.
"In all my years, I never had a poor review. They were always proficient," he said. "This year I was told I was done and they removed me from both (positions). It was a little shock, especially when you look at your performance reviews and nothing tells you, 'Oh yeah, he may need to go.'"
Several residents asked for Alvarez's reinstatement during the meeting, including Ricardo Diaz, a former Fenton soccer player who now works as a coach. He commended Alvarez for his dedication to introducing kids to volunteerism, pushing them to attend 4-year colleges and teaching them how to be respectable young men.
"He opened doors for me," he said. "He showed me about licensing, he showed me how to run a program. He's a mentor."
Another former soccer player presented the board with a petition containing nearly 400 signatures, urging that Alvarez remain as head coach.
"Alvarez has taken a program that was a laughingstock and built it into a formidable power in the conference and the region," the petition states on thepetitionsite.com. "More importantly, he has given countless kids hope and something to look forward to other than hanging around and getting into trouble."
After hearing from several speakers, board President Mary Ribando said employment issues could not be discussed at the meeting.
"There is a situation here that's not just about coaching," she said. "I really feel great that this coach has the support and he's made a difference in people's lives, but our mission here at Fenton is also to support our sports, and as you know, sports and coaches and students, they constantly revolve and they constantly evolve."
Ribando also motioned to two soccer trophies she had brought to the meeting, noting that the board supports soccer in the community and has been recognized for promoting it. After a closed session, she announced that freshman boys soccer coach Victor Ruiz would take over as interim boys soccer head coach.
Alvarez said he appreciated the support he received from his former players and said he plans to continue coaching club soccer in the community.
"I did this because this is my alma mater and this was my way to give back," he said. "I wanted to build a program that we could be proud of and I think we have done that."