Coach Lamb is let go: ‘Having to leave the program this way, is heartbreaking’

 

Pat Lamb watches the progress of a wrestler in action at Rogers City High School during the 2014-15 season.
Pat Lamb watches the progress of a wrestler in action at Rogers City High School during the 2014-15 season.

Pat Lamb, the longtime, well-respected Rogers City wrestling coach, who was in the corner with four state champions and took the program to a state runner-up finish in 2005, has been terminated as head coach. He also has lost his job as a district custodian.

The action came during a meeting Thursday (March 10) morning with interim superintendent Lee Sandy. Lamb will appeal the decision to the Rogers City School Board of Education at its Monday meeting in hopes of being reinstated. The appeal is scheduled to be heard at the conclusion of regular business for Monday’s (March 14) monthly school board meeting. Lamb requested in writing that the review be conducted in open session, as is his right. The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. at the high school library.

Lamb was suspended with pay last week before the individual state finals after an undisclosed incident at the school involving the disposal of a student’s property worth around $250. He was waiting for the meeting with Sandy, who was on vacation at the time, expecting to be disciplined.

“I was totally expecting more punishment than I already have received; however, I did not expect to be terminated,” said Lamb. “I thought I would be given time off without pay (and) severely reprimanded.”

He was emotional when talking about his wrestlers, as well as the thought that he let people down. “That’s punishment beyond anything that, somebody who has not been in that situation, just would not understand. It’s unfathomable what I think of myself at this point, knowing how many young people look up to me and our program.”

Lamb said the interim superintendent received letters of support, and was told they were read.

“I believe that I have proven over and over again that I am an asset to Rogers City Area Schools, and I don’t think termination was warranted,” said Lamb.

“Having to leave the program this way, is heartbreaking to say the least,” he added.

Lamb served as athletic director for 14 years before the board consolidated the AD job with the high school principal. He also had served as head of building and grounds, and transportation.

Sandy did not immediately respond to a request for comment when contacted by e-mail Thursday afternoon.

If Lamb is not successful in his appeal before the board of education this Monday, the district will be looking for a new wrestling coach. There have only been three in 42 years of the highly-successful program, legendary coaches Warren Gleason and the father of the program, Bill Barrett, who urged Lamb to come on board as a paid assistant in 1994. Lamb wrestled for coach Barrett while in high school, capping an outstanding career in 1977.

The team has won 33 district titles in 42 years of competition. Lamb’s teams have won 16 team district titles and seven regional championships.