Beyer could lose 3 coaches

04/03/2008 3:27 AM

04/03/2008 9:18 AM

Doug Severe, Mike Vander Molen and Chris Wilkinson have been involved with the athletic program at Beyer High for a combined 52 years. They currently coach five sports for the Patriots.

It appears that, because of dropping enrollment at their school, all three will be teaching at a new school in September.

Wilkinson said all three teachers received official letters Wednesday that they were being reassigned.

Severe, who graduated from Beyer, is the school's head football and wrestling coach. He's been a part of the school's athletic program for 24 years.

Vander Molen has taught at the school for 14 years. He's been the varsity boys basketball coach since 1999.

Wilkinson was the varsity football coach from 1990-2003. He's been the school's boys and girls tennis coach for four years.

They're all in the physical education/health department, and because Beyer's enrollment has dropped precipitously over two years, they're in line to be sent to other schools that are in need of teachers. When teachers are moved to a different school without their permission, it's on a seniority basis — Severe, Vander Molen and Wilkinson are the lowest three on the ladder.

"This is the third year we've gone through this," Beyer Principal Kevin Salaiz said. "There's a normal shuffle of teachers that happens at this time, but it's been accentuated by the opening of Enochs High. And now, it looks like there are some folks who have been here for a long time who are probably going to have to leave."

Enochs opened in 2006, 1.7 miles east of Beyer. Both schools are on Sylvan Avenue. When the new school opened, it carved heavily into Beyer's boundary.

As more students fill Enochs' halls, the need for teachers there grows. At Beyer, where the enrollment is shrinking, teachers are being moved elsewhere. According to the information every high school provides to the Sac-Joaquin Section, Beyer's enrollment has dropped from 3,312 for the 2005-06 school year to 2,183 this year. Salaiz said Beyer is projected to have 1,750 students for the 2008-09 year.

VANDER MOLEN already has resigned as boys basketball coach.

"It's not the way I wanted to go out," he said. "I didn't plan on leaving like this."

Vander Molen said he's been told he'll teach full time at Enochs next school year.

Severe said he was supposed to find out his official assignment within two weeks.

"It's my understanding that I won't be teaching at Beyer (next school year)," Severe said. "I'm hearing I'll be at Modesto High."

Severe hasn't given any notification concerning his coaching positions, although it's likely he would step down at least as the football coach.

"We're just going to have to wait and see," he said. "We don't know exactly what's going to happen yet."

It's the cruelest cut for Severe, who was a part of the school's first football league championship team in 1975. He's spent nearly all of his professional life at Beyer and is one of the school's biggest fans.

Wilkinson said this would be his final season as tennis coach.

"I've got two years before I retire," Wilkinson said. "I was hoping to finish it out at Beyer, but it looks like I'll be going to Enochs."

Wilkinson said he would be open to coaching at the new school.

"Had this happened when I was younger, I'd be more upset," Wilkinson said. "But once it sets in, I think I'll be OK with it."

The three transfers, plus a couple more non-related coaching moves, mean Beyer could have openings for the following sports next fall: football, cross country, boys soccer, boys tennis, boys basketball, wrestling and girls tennis. And with no new teachers coming aboard, Beyer athletic director Paul Cornwell will be scrambling to find replacements.

"We're looking at (hiring) a whole lot of off-campus coaches next year," Cornwell said.

THIS has happened many times throughout the Stanislaus District.

In Modesto, Downey had a long adjustment period after Johansen opened about three miles to the east in 1992. In Manteca, East Union suffered a heavy attendance drop when Weston Ranch — Manteca Unified's fourth high school — opened in south Stockton in 2003. Sierra is poised to take an enrollment hit when Lathrop High opens in September. Davis will be the next Modesto school to lose students when Gregori opens in Salida in 2010.

Enochs will have seniors next fall, and the schools' enrollment will begin to even out. But the loss of experienced teachers and coaches is heavy for Beyer.

"I don't know what they're going to do next year," Wilkinson said. "That's a lot of coaches to replace."

Will DeBoard's high schools column appears Thursdays. E-mail him at wdeboard@modbee.com, write him at P.O. Box 5256, Modesto, CA 95352-5256, call 578-2300 or fax 238-4551.

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