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Wimberly's exit from coaching not what she envisioned

Original post made on Jun 8, 2012

It could have been an ending to any other school year for Pam Wimberly, who handed out some diplomas at Menlo-Atherton's graduation ceremony on Thursday and looked ahead to teaching summer school. When Wimberly returns to school in the fall to resume her PE teaching duties, however, things will be very different.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, June 8, 2012, 10:59 AM

Comments (24)

Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jun 8, 2012 at 2:00 pm

From the information in this story it seems that MA could have found a more graceful way to conduct this transition. What a dissatisfying way to end a coaching career. Maybe it was time for a change, but she should have been allowed to retire not just told she wasn't coming back. I would hope for more professionalism from school officials but not surprised by their conduct.

My compliments to Ms. Wimberly for her dedication to MA over these many years.

Posted by KAM
a resident of another community
on Jun 8, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Seriously MA? I am not even a parent in your community, but knew Pam just a little when our children were playing sports together and have followed her career. She is a consummate role model on how to live your life. The most upbeat and kind person you will find anywhere. Add to that her innate ability to coach and her insane way to connect personally--well, I am shocked and sad to learn of this decision. My daughter, at 35, most likely can't tell you now the win-lose record for her varsity sports teams in hs--while it seemed vitally important at the time. Some o her seasons definitely had losing records. But, she can tell you the coach (only a couple) who made the difference in her life as how to live your life. And yes, she did end up playing a Div. I sport, regardless those losing seasons. What high school doesn't have a couple years with some losing records. Dump a coach like Pam? Good luck replacing her folks. I can't believe how insensitively this has been handled. Again seriously? So sorry Pam, you deserved a balloon-filled auditorium exit.

Posted by Sue
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jun 8, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Despite whatever reasons Ms. Wimberly was given by the powers to be, their timing was pretty rotten. She has been a legendary part of our local sports community for decades and did not deserve to be publicly humiliated just prior to M-A's graduation, in which she participated as a presenter. No one deserves that type of treatment, yet it was a characteristic Zito move... Pam Wimberly was the core of M-A's athletic program for years and was instrumental in putting M-A on the map for several D1 high school sports. I agree with KAM....she deserves a balloon-filled auditorium exit. Perhaps the parents of athletes that truly shined under her as well as those that took their game to the next level, which she ALWAYS encouraged and supported, can organize a respectable send-off from an awesome career. To JUST teach P.E. in the fall is an embarrassment to her career.

Posted by Pat
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 9, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Pat Wimberly definitely deserved better.
Isn't it amazing that the win-loss of a high school team is more important than the values, techniques and pride that can be taught via sports. I always felt sorry for coaches with so much publicity criticizing them for a team's loss. Most of academia's success is not published weekly. Public school educators work with the students that go out for the sport, they do not recruit, like the pros...think about it.
Pam was always the LADY while coaching,and over the years she has had some fiesty young atheletes to test Pam's patience, and she endured. Good luck to her in the future

Posted by Fresh Perspective
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jun 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Ms. Wimberly is a grump. My daughter was an All-League M-A athlete. Whenever I had to interact with her as the "Athletic Director", she left me frustrated by her arrogance. She was on a power trip with a chip on her shoulder. It's time for a fresh perspective on all fronts.

Posted by Disappointed M-A Grad
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 9, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Very disappointed in my alma mater for being this way towards Ms. Wimberly. She and Coach Parks were legendary coaches who put their hearts/souls into the programs. They put their lives into their work. They did so much for me personally as a person and in my life. She deserves a better end even if it is time.

Posted by M-A parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jun 9, 2012 at 7:09 pm

I agree with Fresh Perspective. One of my children had a dreadful experience with her as a coach. Wimberly has her favorites, and if she doesn't like a kid, she can be cruel. Another child just finished a year with her as a PE teacher and there were plenty of stories about her failure to manage her class. I found her brusque, unapproachable, and humorless. From everything I've observed and heard, she's well past her pull-date.

Posted by You've Got To Be Kidding Me
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 9, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Ms. Wimberly is a legend and has been setting an example for the young women on her teams and other coaches for years. Her firing shows the power of white, overprivileged players' parents. Principal Zito should be ashamed of himself, kow-towing to such pressures. You know who you are out there. 2012-2013 will be no better for your undertalented daughters.

Posted by M-A parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jun 9, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Oh, please, not that tired ole race card.

Parents often complain about their kids' high school coaches, and ADs tend to dismiss a lot of those complaints as noise. If parental complaints were truly a factor in her dismissal, they must have been loud, abundant, and on target.

I heard rumors that she was retiring after the new gym was built, and that was maybe 10 years ago? She should have left gracefully then. She chose to stay and made this kind of ignominious exit inevitable.

Posted by reality check
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Jun 11, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Anything you are hearing about her dismissal is coming from her. The school can't talk about employees, so please keep in mind that you are only hearing one side! When Joe says that she should have been allowed to retire....I'm sure that was the school's first choice! It's more than time for her to gracefully leave. My children's experience in regular PE with her was that she couldn't care less about them and treated the whole PE class horribly....and that was many years ago. Time for her to retire and not inflict her anger on more students!

Posted by Jenny Circle
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 11, 2012 at 4:22 pm

"While no one wanted to state the obvious, going 10-16 this past season and 7-18 in 2010-11 while missing the CCS playoffs both times reportedly did not enamor Wimberly with a group of M-A parents who evidently wanted more. It was a clash of style over substance and the supposed weight of parental pressure apparently won out."

Shame on these parents and the decision to end Pam's coaching career. I've known Pam for over twenty years - She's a class act and these kids couldn't be in better hands. It's too bad that going to the CCS playoffs are more of a priority than Pam's influence of shaping these kids to become great athletes and even better people. They wanted more? I'm dissappointed in all of this. I'm sure I speak for all the girls who have played for you/against you and those who have coached with you.

Posted by M-A parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jun 11, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Everyone keeps referring to Wimberly as a "class act." I'm not sure what that's supposed to mean? That she can be polite to adults when she needs to be? As reality check points out, the kids in her classes describe a teacher who doesn't treat students very well. Nothing horrible, like physical abuse. Just garden variety incompetence and disregard for kids' feelings and level of learning.

I understand from my child that the girls on her team are thrilled that she is not coming back. Don't they count? I personally don't care if my kids' teams win a single game if they learn something, stay safe, and have fun. When you have a coach who doesn't communicate well with the players, isn't teaching them any skills, and is making them unhappy, the win-lose record is just the coup de grace.

Good decision, Mr. Zito. It took courage, but a lot of us parents will back you up 100%.

Posted by M-A Alum
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 12, 2012 at 12:27 pm

The problem with many MA parents is that they dont see their children as a problem, ever. There are ways to play the game, there are ways to teach the game- regardless of the sport. Mrs. Wimberly has been the same person now as she was 25+ yrs ago when my brother and I were students- as students we didnt care for her - and we felt she had a certain disdain for all students that were not hers.
I was fortunate enough to coach at MA years later, and could still see that hint of arrogance, but she really did care... about the players of all sports, the students in all classes and the coaches.
Her job was to coach and mold young people - and it is the students/ players jobs to learn how to play, and learn how to take direction, no matter how the message is delivered.
When your kids get jobs somewhere, have fun telling their bosses you dont like the way they manage, cut the cord and watch your children grow on their own.

Posted by M-A Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 12, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Well said M-A Alum.

Posted by bob
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 12, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Great so now we will have parents and kids deciding who coaches. From my perspective the parents that complain usually are upset because their child is not playing enough and the coach is the problem. No coach is perfect, parents are the problem with kid's athletics. Every parent wants the best for their children, however athletics is like the real world kids that are talented and work hard get to play, talent alone doesn't cut it.

Posted by Dermot Cronin (asst coach Mills basketball
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Jun 12, 2012 at 1:25 pm

I'm not sure of the reasoning behind theecision, but I will miss coaching against Coach Wimberly. Her teams were always well coached and prepared and personally gave us tough games regardless of the records. 3 years ago her team was in the Nor Cals. The last 3 they played in the toughest division of the PAL.

I didn't always like my coaches at the time but looking back I'm glad they didn't coddle me. They prepared me for the real world the way coach Wiberly does. When I see tbem now I thank them for their guidance. I would just like to thank Coach Wimberly for the years of great service to the kids and the game!

Posted by M-A parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jun 12, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Please keep in mind that this is high school. The players are students, not professionals. They are at school to help shape their development and to grow. So yes, a coach who is not serving the needs of the players -- to acquire technique, to learn teamwork, to polish interpersonal skills -- should not be in that job. Students are the only constituency that matters. Not alums, not neighbors, not friends from 30 years ago.

It's a pathetic cop-out to portray M-A parents as selfish and unaware of the bigger picture. I valued the high school teachers who held me to a high standard and made me work harder. So when my kids get coaches and teachers who let them know they aren't perfect and direct them to improve, I am thrilled.

But there is a huge difference between a coach/teacher who can give a lazy or underperforming child a push in a manner that is constructive and caring and a coach/teacher who has a massive chip on the shoulder and whose coaching/teaching is tainted by his/her own personal demons. As parents, we would be remiss if we did not complain about coaches who cursed at or deliberately humiliated our children. And the administration would be remiss to ignore inappropriate coaching behavior.

I have had to fire people, and I know how tough it is. Wimberly is lucky that she still has a job. I have not been one of the complainers, but if my child is assigned to her class again, I will be among those who protest.

Posted by Mel
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Jun 12, 2012 at 11:01 pm

I have always let my kids play and the coaches coach. You claim that Wimberly fails to acquire technique, to learn teamwork, to polish interpersonal skills of her players? Why don't you ask any of the 150+ girls who played for her over the last forty two years about that - however, current students are the only constituents that count? That's a bold statement.

Menlo park parents selfish and unaware of the bigger picture? Hey, you said it- Not all of them, there are many on here that feel the same way as I do - I know several M-A parents that respect Pam and I am sure there are on here voicing their support. MA alum said it well. Cut the cord. They aren't going to grow up unless you let them.

Posted by M-A parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jun 13, 2012 at 9:05 am

I haven't seen any evidence that students are being coddled, but rather, evidence that they are being heard and respected. Is that a bad thing?

And yes, today's students deserve a competent, caring coach. It doesn't do them a whit of good to have a coach who was great 40 years ago and is so self-absorbed that she doesn't realize her own shortcomings. Is that the message we want to send our kids: "you don't matter -- it's all about allowing a paid employee to achieve her personal goals"???

Posted by Dan
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 13, 2012 at 11:56 am

Without any examples of Coach Wimberly's verbal abuse or "personal demons" it's hard to fathom this action. If she was as bad as being stated how is she keeping her job at the school? Doesn't compute.
Coach Wimberly's track record speaks for itself. In my dealings with her she is nothing but classy and ready to lend a hand. She is 2 years removed from being the "CCS honor coach"
Shame on the administration!

Posted by Sofaia, former player
a resident of another community
on Jun 30, 2012 at 9:30 am

Coach Wimberly was instrumental in assisting Tofi and I (better known as the "Twin Towers")with the opportunity to visit colleges in central and southern California towards the end of our senior year. At graduation I still did not know where I was going to school in the fall. If it hadn't been for her direction and caring spirit our road to obtain athletic scholarships at the next level would have been long and arduous. She knew we needed to go to college away from home if we were going to have a fighting chance. I was brought up with my mom telling me to always thank the people who have helped me in life along the way. There are so many ways in which Wimberly aided in shaping my future. When I come home to visit I usually try to stop by Coach Wimberly's office to say "hi", catch up, and thank her.

Even if the administration felt they needed to make a transition I feel it could have been handled better by telling her at the beginning of the school year versus the end. With all that she has accomplished and all of the lives she has positively impacted they could of least extended her that courtesy, but that's just my two cents.

Mrs. Wimberly thank you again for caring enough to steer me in the right direction when I was falling apart my senior year. If it wasn't for your leadership and patience who knows what would have become of me.

Posted by M-A parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jun 30, 2012 at 3:02 pm

According to google, Sofaia and Tofi graduated almost 20 years ago. I am happy that these women have such wonderful memories of high school. Shouldn't today's students be allowed to have a similarly fulfilling and productive experience? It's pretty clear to almost everyone associated with M-A in 2012 that Wimberly was at best ineffective in the role of coach. And it's too bad that she did not choose to make the decision to step down herself, before it became obvious to all that a change was necessary.

Why is she still teaching? Probably because it's almost impossible to fire a teacher who has tenure. M-A has a lot of great long-time teachers, but no one should be guaranteed a job for life. We can thank the California Teachers Assocation for the damage that mediocre tenured teachers continue to inflict on our kids.

Posted by wanda sadler
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 9, 2013 at 1:05 pm

I was in town my mind fell on my friend and coach i was class of 75 we played a many of games together. Theres no better preson she took me to the stars and held me there.
she is a true friend. Wanda

Posted by MA Alum '79
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 25, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Let's say for discussion purposes that it was time for Coach Wimberly to step aside from her coaching duties - and I'm not saying it was - there is no justification for the way it was handled. Someone of her stature and accomplishment deserved a respectful handling of the transition. Shame of Zito and whoever in the administration supported his handling of the situation. No matter what the situation, there is no reason for such a slight.

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