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Student Says Guadalupe Centers Soccer Coach Firing 'Devastated' The Team

The news of Coach Ricky Oliveras' firing spurred protests organized by members of the soccer team he coached.
Greg Echlin
The news of Coach Ricky Oliveras' firing spurred protests organized by members of the soccer team he coached.

The board of the school heard opposition Thursday to the firing of coach Ricky Oliveras earlier this month.

Current and past Guadalupe Centers board members and a current high school student spoke out Thursday opposing the June 16 firing of boys soccer coach Ricky Oliveras.

In response to Thursday’s comments, acting Chief Executive Officer Beto Lopez said, “Your information, your requests will be taken under advisement.”

Two years after taking the school team to a state championship, Oliveras said he was fired for insubordination, a charge he disputes.

Board member Phyllis Hernandez raised concerns about the repercussions of the firing.

“I just know the negative impact it’s having on the community,” she said.

Guadalupe Center senior-to-be Ismael Avila said, “The boys are devastated. Some of the boys don’t even want to play this season.”

It was one of five times during his six-minute plea to the board that Avila used the word “devastated.”

“(The players’) welfare is utmost importance,” Lopez said in response to the comments. “By no means are they going to be shortchanged.”

Because it’s a personnel matter, Lopez and the board wrapped up their meeting in closed session when pressed by a board member about his comment that the complaints would be “taken under advisement.”

Two years ago, Oliveras directed Guadalupe Centers to the school’s first-ever Missouri state title in any sport when the boys’ soccer team clinched the Missouri Class 2 championship.

Oliveras was also the director of youth development for the Guadalupe Centers and worked with Kansas City Parks on the Mayor’s Night Kicks summer soccer program.

Ironically, questions about Oliveras’ firing followed an almost 12-minute presentation by Jim Hammen, the director of Guadalupe Centers human resources, on the downward nationwide trend toward retaining teachers.

“The burnout rate I was talking about, eleven teachers left (Guadalupe Centers) this year and they’re leaving education altogether,” said Hammen.

Oliveras was not one of those who were burned out.

On the contrary, he had hoped to start his team’s quest for another state title with conditioning drills this summer at the same location as the Mayor’s Night Kicks program.

Sports have an economic and social impact on our community and, as a sports reporter, I go beyond the scores and statistics. I also bring the human element to the sports figures who have a hand in shaping the future of not only their respective teams but our town. Reach me at gregechlin@aol.com.
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