December 5, 2015
Mr. Schultz and Mr. Treleven,
After reading the most recent news of a 20 year old boy groping a 14 year old girl at La Follette High School here in Madison I felt it was time to tell another story. A story which includes the cover up of a person's legal history and injustice towards a great coach and the kids he fought for. It was November 2012 when I met coach Ron who was a volunteer coach for the MSCR youth wrestling program and for the Lancer youth wrestling club. I could not believe the energy and passion he brought into practice with his wrestlers. If his wrestlers did not know at the beginning of the season they knew well into the first couple months of practice they could be great not only at wrestling but at life. I remember seeing coach Ron that first year at every practice, every dual meet and every tournament. His dedication and energy electrified his kids turning a insecure child into an inspired "firecracker" on the mat. Win or lose he praised their courage and looked for ways to help them improve on the mat by adjusting as best he could for each kid. He always talked to parents involved in the wrestling program about becoming a community. From the first day of practice to the final day of the last 3 seasons he helped our kids to become a team and got us cheering wrestlers other than our own. It was no surprise that he was nominated for teacher of the month in January of 2015 with channel 3 news. However it was a surprise when I was told that he would no longer be there coaching my kids that same January.
In December, coach Ron had decided to resign from the LYWC due to a conflict between some board members and himself. He was then removed as the head volunteer coach for MSCR wrestling due to the conflict by the board members. Initially we (parents) were told by the high school head wrestling coach Skiles and school board member Michael Flores that coach Ron had resigned. However coach Ron did not resign from MSCR stating he would continue to coach for MSCR in his resignation email to LYWC. When I called MSCR to ask why he was no longer coaching I was informed he resigned. I told them he did not resign and that many parents were concerned that he would not be there to coach. I offered to forward the email he sent out to LYWC but MSCR refused to acknowledge it. After the parents realized he wasn't coming back we got together to negotiate the return of coach Ron with the LYWC board members. The board members agreed to meet with him in order to rectify the conflict but the board members delayed their mediation with coach Ron. We found out later that the board members were stalling so a background check could clear for a Dante Schiro. When his background check came through they refused to meet with coach Ron and named Dante as the head coach. At the beginning of the season there was 40 to 50 wrestlers in the wrestling room for each practice but when coach Ron left we barely had 12 to 16.
On the first day of practice back after break we were called by Mr. Flores and coach Skiles to a parent meeting. Mr. Flores and coach Skiles informed us that coach Ron resigned from MSCR which confused many of us since we received the resignation email for LYWC. We asked coach Skiles and Mr. Flores why he resigned which they replied "you'll have to ask him." They never told us what the conflict was about. During the meeting former coach Jason Decorah walked in. He had left the club two years earlier when his son started high school or so I was told. After a couple of minutes he was escorted out by coach Skiles. Later I was told by a father he came back to coach. Some parents in the meeting were disturbed by his presence. Later I found out why. Mr. Decorah has a felony conviction for sexual assault in addition to multiple DWIs and disorderly conduct convictions. He had been observed by parents striking his son at tournaments and in his own way bragging about it. One father described his oldest son's first couple weeks of practice with Mr. Decorah encouraging a more accomplished wrestler to essentially beat up on his son during practice. Hearing this several of the parents acting through a mediating parent contacted coach Ron to ask him to mediate with Mr. Flores and other board members. He agreed but as I stated above the mediation process was a hoax created by Mr. Flores as a distraction to find another coach.
As the weeks passed I found out Mr. Decorah coached at both the youth and high school level prior to coach Ron's arrival and that coach Ron was the reason why he eventually left. We discovered coach Skiles had concealed Mr. Decorah's history and involvement by never having him fill out a background check with the school district. Coach Skiles helped conceal Mr. Decorah's past with USA Wrestling by giving the club charter to Mr. Decorah's wife Jasmine so he would not have to fill out their background check either. It was also reported that coach Ron had been pressured by the LYWC board members including coach Skiles to let Mr. Decorah coach without having to fill out an MSCR background check. Coach Ron refused most likely because he knew of Mr. Decorah's behaviors and legal issues. To make matters worse his past was also covered up by another family in the club. Frank (former volunteer coach) and Sarah Schiro (former board member) who knew of Mr. Decorah's past from seasons preceding my kids participation in wrestling. They are the parents of Dante Schiro the head volunteer coach who replaced coach Ron.
Coach Ron was questioned by several of the parents as to the conflict between the board members and himself as well as Mr. Decorah's participation in the club and the high school. Some of the parents addressed coach Skiles with coach Ron's answers which he (coach Skiles) denied any of Mr. Decorah's involvement with the high school or club. With some investigation we were able to locate pictures online of Mr. Decorah at La Follette on the wrestling mat coaching with the high school and LYWC during season practices and at youth tournaments. We also contacted USA wrestling and found that Mrs. Decorah did have the LYWC charter in her name for 5 years. After realizing that coach Skiles was being dishonest about Mr. Decorah's involvement and the circumstances why coach Ron was no longer coaching for both LYWC and MSCR we decided to contact administration at La Follette. The vice principal that we talked to spoke with coach Skiles and refused to pay any attention to the evidence essentially calling coach Ron a liar. A couple of parents contacted the school district with them (MMSD) eventually stating that Mr. Decorah had no involvement in high school wrestling at La Follette and refused to comment any further on the parent's concerns or evidence.
My kids eventually decided that they did not want to go to practice anymore with coach Ron no longer there. Normally I would encourage them to finish what they started but with their friends and practice partners gone I didn't see the point. Our last practice yielded 10 kids with coach Dante who only showed to one tournament for LYWC and every other practice for MSCR.
Coach Ron was not just a great coach but a good man. It was noted by many parents that coach Ron used to buy shoes for kids in the MSCR program as well as sending them to camps during the summer. When a child needed a singlet he would buy them one when all the other LYWC singlets were in use. He was stubborn when it came to the needs of his wrestlers. He always proclaimed "anything less than the best is not good enough when it comes to kids." If you decide not to investigate this injustice then at least acknowledge that he was a great coach and that many of the parents and wrestlers who were in LYWC and MSCR wrestling will remember him that way.