The Santa Barbara High girls soccer team was facing a lot of obstacles on Friday even before the game against Camarillo High kicked off.
The Dons were not only short one of their best players, but they were without head coach Silas Fallstich.
Fallstich was fired on Thursday for unknown reasons. On Friday, Fallstich obtained his personnel file, but inside there was no direct reasoning as to what led to his firing.
According to Fallstich, there was only a single letter that read: “This letter serves as notice that Santa Barbara Unified School District is terminating your employment as a temporary employee serving as a walk on coach at Santa Barbara High School.”
When Fallstich reached out via email to John Becchio, the assistant superintendent of Human Resources, Becchio said he could not speak to him if he was represented by an attorney.
Fallstich, who is not represented by an attorney, followed up to inform Becchio of this.
Becchio then responded saying that there is no other documentation to provide. According to Fallstich, Becchio added: “The Principal has complete discretion as to whether to continue having you in the role as walk on coach and she chose not to have you continue. This is the only statement you are going to receive from us…” and ended the email saying, “I understand these may not be the answers you want to hear but nonetheless they are the District’s answers.”
Earlier on Friday, the district released the following statement regarding the matter: “The principal made the decision to not continue with that particular coach. It’s a personnel matter, so we can not elaborate further.”
Because the school board is listed as a representative of the community, Fallstich is appealing the decision with the backing of some of the parents on the team.
Assistant coach Bridget Thomson filled his place as the interim head coach on Friday evening.
Thomson said she was both “confused and shocked” when she heard the news regarding Fallstich.
“Silas is a good friend of mine and (right now) it’s very uncertain as far as that component (his firing). But for me it was it was a hard decision because the girls are the No. 1 priority and I felt like keeping it as seamless as possible was the most important thing I could have done, as far as my role and keeping that continuity for the girls,” Thomson said.
When asked if she would continue as the interim coach for the rest of the season, Thomson responded with: “Yes, as far as I know, yes.”
Senior captain Mikayla Thoits said she was also shocked by the news of Fallstich’s firing, as was the rest of the team.
“I feel like it was more confusing than frustrating just because we didn’t have an idea of why he was gone, but yeah it was frustrating at first. I feel like for a lot of us it was frustrating because we didn’t know how our season was going to play out after that,” Thoits said.
Fellow senior captain Sofia Garafalo also stated that when the team was told about the firing they were also told they were not going to get any reasoning behind the decision.
“We just have to move forward from it,” Garafalo said.
Despite all those roadblocks, the Dons were able to put together a great defensive performance and pulled out a 0-0 draw against a tough Scorpions team that came into this contest with no losses and just one tie. The Dons improved to 3-4-4.