Bielski resigns as Huskies hockey coach
EAGLE-VAIL<Less than a month after he led Battle Mountain hockey to second place in state playoffs, the highest finish by a non-skiing Huskies team since 1993, head coach Ken Bielski resigned Thursday afternoon.3It is both with unparalleled pride and regret that I must tender my resignation as hockey coach at Battle Mountain High School effective immediately, Bielski said in a letter to Battle Mountain athletic director Fred Koetteritz. 3The pride comes from the character of the fine young men that I1ve had the distinct pleasure of coaching and the terrific season that they put together. The sorrow comes from the circumstances that have arisen that require me to move on.The chain of events leading to Bielski1s resignation began with allegations filed with superintendent Mel Preusser by a parent of one of the team players concerning Bielski1s off-ice conduct during the state semifinals and finals, held in Colorado Springs Feb. 26-28.3I think Ken is obviously a very talented, knowledgeable hockey coach, Koetteritz said Tuesday. 3No one questions his ability to coach the game of hockey. He brought a lot of successful kids with that knowledge and a level of motivation. But a coach also has other responsibilities as a leader and a role model for his athletes.Koetteritz and Battle Mountain principal Mark Bullock met with players of the team, starting on March 6. After speaking with Bielski, Koetteritz gave the coach the option of being dismissed or resigning last Friday.Bielski thought it over during the weekend, but did not respond to Koetteritz on Monday. In the meantime, a group of parents of players on the team who are supportive of Bielski met with Koetteritz and Bullock on Tuesday morning. Wednesday, Koetteritz again gave Bielski the option of dismissal or resigning. Bielski chose the latter Thursday afternoon.3I1ve decided that I don1t want to pursue that. I1ve decided that if I resign, as I have, I will have a future in coaching, Bielski said. 3And I think that all the kids that I may touch in the future will benefit from that as well as the kids I1ve already coached. I1ve had to make a very tough decision to swallow my pride, not to fight a protracted legal battle.Bielski1s tenure at Battle Mountain was marked by a rapid rise to success on the ice as well as plenty of controversy off it. Bielski battled it out with referees and rival coaches in the media and also had his share of run-ins with the parents of members of the team.That didn1t seem to distract the Huskies on the ice. In its first year in Colorado High School Activities Association hockey, Battle Mountain went 13-1-2 to share the regular-season title with Aspen. In the playoffs, the Huskies won double-overtime thrillers over Regis and Kent Denver to advance to the state finals. There, against Cheyenne Mountain, Battle Mountain1s overtime magic ran out when the Indians won the title in the first extra period.Along the way, Bielski formed a tight bond with his team and most of the parent community. That was reflected early this month when the parents of 18 of the team1s 20 members signed a petition submitted to the Battle Mountain administration requesting that Bielski be retained for next year.3Bottom line is that they1re losing sight of the kids and what is best for the kids. What1s best for the kids is to have Ken Bielski on the ice with them, said Beth Chow, the mother of freshman forward Austin Chow. 3I1m not saying that he shouldn1t enroll in role model 101. … But as I said to somebody, put him on double-whammy probation. The minute he steps out of line, he1s out of there. But give him a chance.Craig Denton, whose son Keith is a sophomore forward on the team, suspects that hockey politics is behind Bielski1s resignation.3It all comes down to a disgruntled parent because of a lack of ice time, he said. 3That1s all it comes down to. How is he going to extort his revenge in the end? It1s too bad. That1s the bottom line.3Life is not fair. There are people who hold a lot bigger cards than I ever will and they have spoken, Bielski said. 3But I1m willing to learn from my mistakes every day and the day that I stop learning is the day that I die.As long as Bielski hasn1t shuffled off his mortal coil, he will coach in a high school state all-star game March 30 in Colorado Springs. He will also be attending the state awards banquet March 29. He has been nominated for the state1s coach-of-the-year award.In the meantime, Koetteritz and the Battle Mountain administration will be looking for a new hockey coach, a somewhat awkward situation given that the team went 15-2-2 overall last season.3We1ve obviously got a lot of work to do, Koetteritz said. 3Coach Bielski and the young men from this year certainly set a pretty high standard for Battle Mountain hockey and we certainly, at a minimum, want to achieve that same level next year if not exceed it.3We will certainly search for a coach of the highest caliber, an educator to lead the program.On a more humorous note, Bielski offered some advice to his successor.3What do I say to the next coach? Good luck. The over and under is six months, he joked.