WDAY: GRAND FORKS — The Grand Forks Red River High School boys hockey team is going for a state title without their longtime coach after the school removed him the opening day of the East Region tournament.
Just hours before the Rough Riders laced up their skates at Purper Arena, Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 12, they learned the man who had been leading the team for the past decade, including to three state titles, had been stripped of his duties.
Roughriders Hockey Coach Bill Chase was placed on indefinite administrative leave, though he still serves as a guidance counselor at a middle school in the Grand Forks school district.
“This late in the season to do something like that, I was shocked,” said parent Paul Andrade.
“I think it’s harder for the boys, 17 and 18-years-old to have to play the game under that stress, there must be a good reason we don’t know about,” said another parent, Jon Bradbury.
While some parents were shocked, others said they were not.
News of Chase being placed on leave comes after players recently filled out a routine yearly survey where questions may have been raised about how he talked to players, according to people with knowledge of the situation. The superintendent declined to directly comment.
“The district stands by its original statement and will not further comment on a personnel matter,” said district superintendent Terry Brenner via a text from a district spokesperson.
Chase, who was the state coach of the year in 2013 and national coach of the year of the year during an undefeated season in 2016, also issued a statement:
“I have total respect for our administration, players and parents . . . best for the process to take place now.”
Players were informed of the decision Tuesday morning between the first and second periods of class.
“Obviously it’s going to be different, it’s an unfortunate situation,” said goalie Nate Bradbury, “But we are just going to play with the cards we are dealt.”
Assistant coach John Dvorak will lead the Roughriders until the district makes a decision about Chase’s future.
“Hopefully, it will rally the team, get them back playing as the team together,” said Andrade.
Red River won their first round of the EDC tournament 3-0 against West Fargo.
Their next game is Friday against GF Central.