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Investigation of SHS Basketball Program Launched after Complaints from Parents

Officials promise to probe allegations of name-calling, verbal abuse by Strongsville HIgh School coaches

A small group of parents told Strongsville school officials Thursday night that "negative environment" and bully tactics by coaches are ruining the district's basketball program and causing kids to leave the team.

Superintendent John Krupinski promised to look into the complaints.

"There will be a comprehensive investigation," he said. 

's long-time head basketball coach Joe Lynch said he did not want to comment until after he meets with school officials on Monday. 

Parent John Psellas told the board his son, a senior, is leaving the SHS basketball team this year because he is tired of the negativity.

"Our students should be playing the game they love and not leaving it because of a negative climate," Psellas said.

Paul Lekan echoed his sentiments, saying the concerns have nothing to do with win-loss records or playing time, but are raised because boys are "choosing not to participate."

"The program needs to be looked at," Lekan said.

And George Metrakos said his son was physically manhandled -- the coach grabbed him by the shirt and yelled at him in front of fans during a game -- and verbally abused. 

"How can this program verbally and mentally abuse these kids?" he said. 

The parents say Lynch and his assistant coaches call the kids offensive names, criticize their playing, fail to provide enough conditioning and rarely offer any praise.

"If my son had called a teacher what he was called, he would have been suspended," Psellas said.

Lekan said he is fine with passionate coaching, but not with "post-play put-downs."

Psellas said he is aware of at least six juniors and seniors who have played together for years, but will not join the SHS team this winter.

"They're refusing to play under the current coaches," said Psellas, who said he has already met with Lynch and Athletic Director Paul Moses. "They (coaches) have to be tough on the kids, but they also need to build them up."

Moses called the situation "unfortunate" and said he planned to meet with the basketball coaches about the concerns.

"We hope our programs promote a positive atmosphere," Moses said. "It's high school sports -- it's fun."

Lynch, the former athletic director at SHS, has coached boys basketball for the last 37 years. In December 2009, he was recognized for his 500th career win.

He was not at Thursday's School Board meeting. Contacted by phone Friday, Lynch said he wants to respond to the allegations, but said he would hold off until after meeting with Strongsville school officials on Monday.

At the board meeting Thursday, School Board President David Frazee promised to delve into the matter.

"You have my word we will definitely look into these issues," he told the parents.

Krupinski said "safety and security" of students is of utmost importance.

"We're taking his matter very seriously," he said.

Get a tissue August 21, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Wow. What a joke. I went to a private school and went through the same thing, because I had a bad attitude. Sure I thought I was being picked on by the coaches at the time, but I later realized my attitude was the problem. Maybe you should teach your kids why things happen instead of making excuses for them.
Basketball Mama August 21, 2012 at 05:55 AM
Coaches are just so MEAN ): they made my son duck tape a basketball to his hand for a WEEK cuz he had "bad hands like a Bi*ch" said Joe.
reason August 21, 2012 at 03:41 PM
I happen to know many kids that left the program after their freshman year. None of them said it was because of lynch and lynch wasn't even there coach some kids leave because they wanna play other sports and specialize in 1 sport
Craig Thompson August 21, 2012 at 05:29 PM
I was lucky enough to play two sports for Joe Lynch at Chanel High school in the late 70`s. Then played in college and in the pros for three years. Coach Lynch is a AWESOME coach. The finest I`ve ever played under and I`ve played for quite a few. But more than a coach he is a better man,educator,parent and man of God. If you have never been yelled at you haven`t been coached!!
EA August 21, 2012 at 06:16 PM
This is going on with the SHS girls also starting from middle school up. I can't comment on Center nor am I speaking about the amout of playing time either. Parents went to the athletic director but nothing was done. I know of girls who switched sports or aren't playing at all anymore because of the basketball coachs and aggresive atmosphere. Just go to the tryouts and you will see.
reason August 21, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Beverly you sound very much like someone with and ax to grind a very angry person. I wonder what has made it so personal with yoi? Did your son not get playing time? You seem to know alot about thd goings on with the program and how the/,ikids feel. I know many of the kids that have played over the years, that have droped out of the program. And if we took a poll of kids that left I think you would be hard pressed to find any of them saying it was because of lynch. None of them played for him , I think you may find the kids that left are on the football field. Most will tell you that. 2 sports was just 2 hard. I have heard just as many complaints about the football coaches girls coaches. Whatever your motavation is beverly to compare him to a child rapist shows your true colors and just how angry and personal this is for you
Beverly August 21, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Reason-Not that I need to again explain to someone as ignorant as you,but for your small brain I will repeat :-If you read what I wrote above you would see that I was not accusing Lynch of anything like the Penn State abuse & I clarified that a few times. I was merely drawing parallels in sports programs where people idolize coaches & accept bad behavior because they lose sight of all reason and get caught up in a culture that is about winning AT ANY COST,as Penn State did. I'm not certain of everything that some here are saying,but I'm sure the facts will come out & people can all have their own opinions again.There are obviously people from further back than 3 years ago who had good experiences with Coach Lynch & want to defend him because THEIR experience was positive. People change-they lose passion for what they are doing & become jaded-if you've seen any games the last 2 years in particular you would recognize this. Tolstoy 's comments are verbatim what we all KNOW-this program has a problem-exactly who & what it is remains to be determined,but a definite change is needed and I think most people agree w/Tolstoy on that. And for the record-my son played plenty,just didn't like the politics among the kids & parents- it was not even about the coaches,who in 9th grade at the time were awesome volunteer coaches back then. I've just seen alot of negativity in the last few years that makes me sad for kids who do love basketball. Some send their kids to private school like u
reason August 21, 2012 at 07:55 PM
My son played for lynch he was not a starter did not get much playing time but knew his role be ready to play and help the starters be better players. I never felt nor did he feel abused i think your use of the word abused is over kill if your son is not playing or has never played then your talking out of your ___. I bet a paycheck that your son did not get the playing time you thi k he should have got and that's why its so personal with you Beverly your very transparent
James Murphy August 21, 2012 at 08:10 PM
yes you have an axe to grind (sorry your kid was not a superstar) get over it
reason August 21, 2012 at 08:13 PM
So thats it, he dident like the politics of the awsome volenteer coaches or his team mates. Now we know your motivation and where your anger comes from, no man and a crybaby son.
Jean Williams August 21, 2012 at 09:00 PM
beverly you seem like one of those everyone is a winner type bleeding hearts, that has ruined school sports
Beverly August 21, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Again,ignoramus-read before you speak-He loved the coaches &got more than reasonable playing time- but hated the other parents & kids complaining &being political trying to force the coaches hands by yelling/complaining at the COACHES for playing time. Few of the kids got along with each other that year-the coaches definitely weren't the problem then.He didn't dislike the program itself. However,from what I've seen the last few years,I & many others don't like the program & how it's run . From what I personally have seen it is more neglect,negativity & lack of enthusiasm on the part of some coaches that is prevalent & the cause of most of the discord. And no,I'm not a bleeding heart, just a citizen sick of seeing my tax dollars spent on inept & in some cases unqualified people letting a potentially top notch program deteriorate & become a losing joke . I guess if I have an "axe to grind" it's with a former superintendent who was(IMO) only here to pump up his salary before retirement-just like the one before him. They didn't have a pulse on what was going on in our school sports programs,let alone the school budget. This problem is certainly not limited to boys basketball-which is why the former girls basketball coach is no longer here. You sound like perhaps you are disappointed in your son in that you admit he wasn't a core player/"knew his role".My son didn't cry to anyone,he finished the season& simply chose to be mature & move onto something he enjoyed more.
reason August 21, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Beverly i am fine with my son and what his role was. He loved the game and he did not quit because of the other boys or politics or bullies. He did not move on he can hold his head up high and say he was a member of a winning program. All that you can say is I am alone and angry and I will vote obama again.
EA August 22, 2012 at 12:05 AM
Are you talking about Blackman? She is still coaching but not in HS.
Varsity coach wannabe August 22, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Beverly aka John i figured it out . And u call yourself a coach.Great role model.
Beverly August 22, 2012 at 02:19 AM
Good for your son,glad he was able to hold it together- a shame he probably can't say the same about his father who isn't a very good example given what you've said (attacking other kids without knowing facts)here-and you have no clue about me-I'm not alone,angry or a democrat, and I'm not John either, but I find everyone's fortune telling bits here humorous.
Player Dad August 23, 2012 at 10:29 PM
Beverly. My son very recently played for 4 years for Joe Lynch. I was at every scrimmage, pre-season, season, and playoff game minus 2 or 3 over those 4 years. I also travelled with the team to Florida for a Holiday tournament and showed up for many, many practices. During those 4 years, I saw NOTHING of the things you mention. Was he tough? Did he get in kids' faces? Did he yell and scream? Yes. He did. This is not 2nd grade basketball. It's competitive high school ball where kids need to grow up and realize its no longer "just for fun". Is Joe Lynch perfect? No. Are you? I doubt it. Did Joe Lynch make a huge mistake and grab a kid? I have no clue. I wasnt there. However, the bullshit about "....abusive verbal & physical behavior continued for years & years" is nothing short of you throwing the guy under a bus with zero merit. You sound like a typical, spoiled, pampered, "don't rock my boat" Strongsville parent which is pathetic. You seriously need to find a better use of your time rather than attempt to throw a guy under a bus with comments that in all likelyhood you only "heard" thru gossip rather than actually witnessing such. And by the way, I am NOT one of Joe Lynch's "cronies" as you refer in a different post. I am simply a Dad who watched very, very closely and saw first hand, for four years, what exactly was and wasnt going on.
tom m August 24, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Great point but was hidden way above Player Dad 6:29 pm on Thursday, August 23, 2012 Beverly. My son very recently played for 4 years for Joe Lynch. I was at every scrimmage, pre-season, season, and playoff game minus 2 or 3 over those 4 years. I also travelled with the team to Florida for a Holiday tournament and showed up for many, many practices. During those 4 years, I saw NOTHING of the things you mention. Was he tough? Did he get in kids' faces? Did he yell and scream? Yes. He did. This is not 2nd grade basketball. It's competitive high school ball where kids need to grow up and realize its no longer "just for fun". Is Joe Lynch perfect? No. Are you? I doubt it. Did Joe Lynch make a huge mistake and grab a kid? I have no clue. I wasnt there. However, the complaining about "....abusive verbal & physical behavior continued for years & years" is nothing short of you throwing the guy under a bus with zero merit. You sound like a typical, spoiled, pampered, "don't rock my boat" Strongsville parent which is pathetic. You seriously need to find a better use of your time rather than attempt to throw a guy under a bus with comments that in all likelyhood you only "heard" thru gossip rather than actually witnessing such. And by the way, I am NOT one of Joe Lynch's "cronies" as you refer in a different post. I am simply a Dad who watched very, very closely and saw first hand, for four years, what exactly was and wasnt going on.
Bryan August 24, 2012 at 05:46 PM
good man bad coach. no reason with the talent in strongsville that they shouldnt be a top 10 team every season. he plays way to much favortism to certain players, and he restricts other players and what they can do, so that his favorite players benefit the most. i have seen 3 different teams that should have went alot further in the playoffs then they did (2 of the teams might have even been good enough to go to states), due to him refusing to play certain players because it would take away time from his select 2 or 3. and if you dont pay the money to play in his camps and summer leagues, dont even bother trying out because you wont stand a chance to make the team. dont dishonor this man though and try to fire him based on these embelished stories of abuse, or because your kid didnt get to play. chances are your kid wasnt very good, but you had the money to get him on the team, and if a player cant handle a little criticism you shouldnt play to begin with. fire him because he no longer seems to have the ability/will to coach, evaluate talent, and win games. thats why he needs to go. and when he goes, get rid of everyone and start fresh, keep no one on board. especially assistant coach stephen, god forbid he is even considered a canidate to replace him. he is possibly the worst coach ever with absolutely 0 basketball IQ. the man is a total idiot and will completely ruin strongsville basketball, if hes your second option to replace lynch, youre better off keeping him.
Tom Brennan August 24, 2012 at 06:17 PM
Speaking of coaches who probably ought to pack it in, what's the deal with Russ Jacques and the football Mustangs? They were completely destroyed last night by Lake Catholic were picked by the PD sportswriters to finish last in their division. With the enrollment numbers at SHS, it's hard to believe the teams keep becoming less competitive. I'm no football expert, but from what I've seen it appears that Coach Jacques tries to mold to players to fit his antiquated system, rather than modifying his coaching style around the players' collective strengths and talents.
Player Dad August 24, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Bryan. Your comments about a couple of recent basketball teams not going as far in the playoffs as they should have is true, however, your rationale as to why they did not is ridiculous. They didn't go as far as they should have because of strategy as well the the kids "thinking" they were better than they were. Simply put, they took the opponent for granted and sleep walked thru games they should have won. i never saw Joe Lynch play favorites, rather, he simply played the kids who gave the team the best chance to win, or, he played the kids who were not being disciplined (for whatever reason). Favorites? Very, very untrue. To say he played favorites is assinine and totally wrong. Also, the idea that a kid would never make the team unless he played in a summer camp? Really? Again. That's a totally assinine and moronic statement to make. Again. I'm NOT one of Joe's "cronies" as another poster called certain people. I'm simply a person who watched very closely what transpired the 4 years my son played. To say things about a man just to pile on is simply wrong. So don't do it unless you have absolute facts to back what you are saying.
James Thomas August 27, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Like this one Ms. Ruiz Patton?. You are such a hypocritical censor. Susan Ruiz Patton 9:02 am on Friday, July 13, 2012 A comment has been deleted for violating our terms of use. Profanity and masked profanity are not permitted on our site. Let's keep it clean, folks. Delete . James Thomas 9:24 am on Friday, July 13, 2012 Ms. Ruiz Patten, How is it that the "masked profanity" that I CUT AND PASTED from "Real Guy's" post was deleted but the original comment is still there in all its gory (not a misspelling). That is either very shoddy editing or downright Censorship. "Have you no Shame?" 9:25 am on Friday, July 13, 2012 And I rest My case. Real Guy 9:37 am on Thursday, July 12, 2012 Thanks for exposing these people as the completely out of touch morons that they are. I just found this website, so I'm not quite sure yet if it is just a right-wing nutbag circlejerk but I've seen little to refute it.
Build....Lead....Motivate August 29, 2012 at 03:43 AM
I've let this subject cool down over the last few days because i was hesitant in commenting, but I now want to add my two cents to the conversation about Coach Lynch. I have heard through the grapevine that he was a very good basketball player as a young man. I have heard he was a great coach, and it is evident in him exceeding 500 wins which is a great accomplishment and I applaud him for that. He's had quite an accomplished sports career. The question is whether it's time for him to move on or not. I am not going to comment on the aggressive language used with the players, as was presented in front of the school board. I really wish that those people who spoke to the board would have taken more of an angle of what I am going to say here in this posting. It's actually quite bothersome that the people who brought this issue to the school board hung their hat on abusive language. For heaven's sake, football coaches speak worse to kids multiple times over than any basketball coach. This is not the problem that I would've presented to the school board, but more of a fundamental problem that I'll discuss in more detail below. What I am going to comment on is something that Paul Moses and the school board should consider. Has Coach Lynch lost the zeal and excitement to coach at a high level? Are fundamentals being taught and are the boys playing as well as they could play? I know Coach has positively influenced many young men's lives and for that he's to be commended. But....
Build....Lead....Motivate August 29, 2012 at 03:45 AM
But has he lost his passion and fight is the question. For example, the end of the Solon game why did it look like there was no inbound play on three consecutive plays? Was the play a horribly designed play, was there any play or were the kids just running around aimlessly on the court, and why was Meehan two feet from the inbounder? Anyone who was at any of the games would tell you that the high school's press break was absolutely horrible. Freaking horrible. They looked like they didn't know how to break a press, no movement, no sense of urgency, no screens being set, leaving their buddy in the back court which often times left him stranded and then a turnover followed. Is this the coaches fault, or the players? -Rarely was there a pick and roll play, one of the greatest plays in basketball. As a matter of fact, last year I noticed several of the players didn't even know how to properly roll to the hoop. When rolling to the hoop, the player is supposed to open towards the ball side so it keeps the defender on their back and opens a passing or driving lane to the hoop. Where were the coaches in teaching this very basic fundamental of how to roll to the hoop?
Build....Lead....Motivate August 29, 2012 at 03:45 AM
-At Mentor I believe Coach Lynch spent 2 minutes at half time with the boys in the locker room before bringing them back on the court. We're down 30 points at half and the coach only has something to say that lasts 2 minutes? That sounds like a coach who is giving up, or someone that doesn't believe in his players, or someone that has lost his zeal for the game. I know if I were coaching, I'd be drawing up multiple strategies to save face for the fans, but more importantly to show my players that I will never abandon them. -The beginning of the home St. Ignatius game was awesome. Strongsville began in a 2-3 zone defense and we jumped out to a 10-0 lead. St. Ignatius took a timeout and made an adjustment and then they scored the next 18 points and never looked back. Strongsville made no change, no adjustments and we went on to lose that game. The zone defense was a brilliant move by Coach Lynch and his assistants at the beginning of the game, however when St. Ignatius showed that they could break the 2-3 zone, then Strongsville should have mixed in man-to-man defense, or a 1-3-1, a 3-2, or a triangle and 2 zone. There are so many defensive looks that Strongsville could have shown Ignatius during that game, but our coaches seem like they don't make any adjustments. Strongsville coaches are being out-coached and are missing many opportunities to teach our boys how to play the game of basketball.
Build....Lead....Motivate August 29, 2012 at 03:46 AM
The boys look like a bunch of 3 point shooting robots out there on the court. Need I mention that the lowest percentage shot in basketball is the three point shot. Most NBA players don't even make 3 out of 10 three point shots, and then for our players not to be crashing the boards on those 3 point attempts is inexcusable and something that coaching would correct. The boys have very little creativity in their shots, and they seem slow in their ball making decisions. How many players in Strongsville can take their defender off the dribble? How many kids show that they can do a spin move (maybe then can do a spin move in practice, but why doesn't that translate into games)? How many players do a reverse lay-up during a game? How many turn around jumpers did the fans see last year? Which players know how to do a Kobe Bryant step-through shot? Which players can do an Allen Iverson runner in the lane (Meehan, Stephens and Alexander should've been doing this all year)? How many jab steps, or ball fakes did we see last year? How many players in Strongsville know how to play with their back to the hoop? Does anyone in Strongsville show that they have any post moves (Jake and Wes should've been able to play in the post, but we sure didn't see this much at all)? I saw Meehan and Stephens do a Rajon Rondo ball fake once the entire season. Are they not allowed to do a Rondo ball fake? Are they scared that the coach will yell at them?
Build....Lead....Motivate August 29, 2012 at 03:46 AM
I believe that some of the Strongsville players are playing based on fear of being pulled in a game? Are they afraid of making mistakes for fear of being pulled or name called? I don't know. What I do know is that I've watched some of these boys play at the Rec. Center. They play a much looser style of ball at the Rec. They are more themselves, they play freer, they are willing to try moves that look like basketball looking moves. They don't just chuck up three point shots. They create, they dribble drive. They look like they are having more fun playing at the Rec. I'm going to address one of my favorite players on the varsity team. Kyle Meehan. He is an excellent point guard. Many people may have thought he was a ball hog last year. I didn't. He dribbled the ball so much because he was looking to find one of his buddies to pass to, but his buddies were standing around the three point line not moving at all. He couldn't pass the ball because the defender was all over the guys on the wing because our wing players were just standing there on the 5 out perimeter offense that Strongsville seems to continually run. Why were the players just standing on the three point line not moving, not screening, not back screening, side screening, screening the ball, cross court double screen, any type of freakin' screen? They looked like they didn't know how to play without the ball. Is that the coaches fault? Or is that the players fault? Who is to blame?
Build....Lead....Motivate August 29, 2012 at 03:47 AM
Was there instruction during practice on what to do if the first or second run through of the offense didn't work? I'm going to tell you now that Meehan is not a 3 point shooter. Yes, he can make them, but would I have him shooting 3 pointers all game. Heck no. He is a penetrate and dish guy, he is a playmaker, he's a creator, he can use both hands better than anyone on the team, and he wants to pass the ball to a cutter, but NO ONE is cutting to the hoop because the coaches do not instruct cutters to move without the ball. How many times Meehan or Stephens could have dished the ball to a weak side cutter and it would be an easy two point shot/layup. Meehan could be one of the best pick and roll guards that Strongsville has ever seen. But we will never see it in the current system. Just to clarify, I am not related to Meehan, and they have no idea that I am writing this, so before anyone tries to blame the Meehan family, the only reason I am singling him out, is because for Strongsville to be effective this year, they better utilize him in a Derrick Rose type of player or the Strongsville varsity team is in for a world of hurt. I could go on and on of examples throughout the season where I believe our coaches are getting totally out-coached by a mile. I am worried about our players learning/not learning what they need to on the court in order to be successful, in order to learn the game of basketball, in order to create on-court leaders and off-court young men.
Build....Lead....Motivate August 29, 2012 at 03:48 AM
I'll end with this.....Romeo Crennell was a nice guy, a good coach, a good man, but at some point he lost control of the Cleveland Browns and his time in Cleveland was over. It is possible the Strongsville high school basketball program may be at the same point. I encourage Paul Moses to chat with Coach Lynch and his assistants, review some of what I've talked about here and to boldly address what they will do differently this season if indeed they return. The players can sense a coach's confidence in his players, and they can also sense a lack of confidence. I don't settle for mediocrity in my life, and neither should our boys. Build.....Lead.....Motivate.
Jim S September 12, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Joe Lynch is one of the finest coaches to ever coach basketball in northeast Ohio. He remains one of the finest. There appears to be a few people with a "Lynch Mob" mentality. I think that is very sad. The entire Strongsville community is fortunate to have a man of Joe's stature as their head coach. I hope the superintendent and other leaders of the school system have the courage to support Joe against this small "mob" of complainers. We will see if they do..........

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