EFFINGHAM, Ill. (WCIA) — Nearly 100 people showed up to support a coach whose job was on the line.
Coach Rod Wiethop has been a baseball and basketball coach for the Effingham School District for about 25 years.
Parents and his colleagues crammed into a room tonight, standing room only, while the school board talked about whether or not to fire him from coaching.
He was told by the superintendent a couple of weeks ago they wanted to move in a new direction.
School officials won’t comment publicly on personnel matters, but they held a special board meeting at five o’clock Tuesday night.
As soon as the meeting start, the school board went into closed session with Coach Rod Wiethop.
So dozens waited, for more than an hour, for their chance to defend him.
When Wiethop finally emerged, his words took them by surprise.
“They’ve asked me to announce they’re going to retain me as coach,” Wiethop said.
This announcement follows a campaign put together by colleagues and students over the last few weeks – all to try and convince the school board to let him continue coaching.
“He was great and really instilled values into his players, things you can’t learn on a basketball court or baseball field,” former student Paul Jones said.
Paul Jones and his brother Mark say Wiethop is one of the reasons they both decided to major in education in college.
“I can’t say enough about his character, and just how awesome of a person he is, and how he taught me how to play basketball but he taught me how to go through life,” Mark Jones said.
Wiethop helped start the local chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Hundreds of kids attended camp this year.
Students say it didn’t matter who you were, he made sure you were welcome in his company.
“It wasn’t just about star players, he was about playing anyone. It didn’t matter about how much money you made, what your name was,” Taylor Weiser said.
They all say this entire situation has been mind-boggling. Wiethop is grateful to those who’ve pushed for him to keep his job.
“This is the only thing I know, this is what I’ve done, and it was hurtful but the outpouring of people in the community I didn’t expect that at all. That’s been phenomenal,” Wiethop said.
Wiethop is also a teacher in the district, so even if he was let go from his coaching positions he still would have been employed by the school.