It is a stunning loss of a winning coach that has become the talk of the town in Braintree, Massachusetts.
The coach of the girls basketball team at Braintree High School is stepping down and calling foul on a few parents.
Kristen McDonnell took to Twitter on Monday to announce her resignation “with a very heavy heart.”
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She followed up with a brief explanation in a tweet posted Wednesday that said in part, “This concerns only a select few parents and should not represent the rest of the players, parents, BHS athletic program, or the town of Braintree.”
“There’s a lot of opinions involved. It’s so tough. For her to feel so strongly that parents had such a negative impact, it’s really sad,” said parent Shannon Hume, whose daughter plays on the JV team.
Those familiar with the situation said the problem was with parents who were not pleased with McDonnell's coaching or how much attention she was giving to certain players.
Tom Herlihy, who had two daughters play under McDonnell’s leadership, said some parents even wrote negative letters.
“Some of them just aren’t happy unless their daughter is playing a central role on the court,” Herlihy said. “There was discontent with the girls playing time, attention one would get as the star of the team, and awards that were given.”
The team’s student manager, Caroline Smyth, said the team is devastated knowing a coach who once had a 63 game winning streak will not be easily replaced. Smyth said McDonnell made her feel like part of the team.
“I was really upset when I heard that coach quit. I was like this isn’t happening. She shouldn’t quit. She’s been coaching for 8 years. She can’t go. She can’t leave us,” Smyth said.
McDonnell is credited with building the girls team at Braintree High over the last 8 seasons, leading them to back to back state championships.
NBC Boston did get in touch with McDonnell, but she had no comment. The athletic director at BHS referred all inquiries to the superintendent of Braintree Public Schools. NBC Boston’s calls to the superintendent have not been returned.