Tom Coffin, the coach of the American Ultimate Disc League’s DC Breeze, has been relieved of his duties as head coach, Breeze owner Aaron Foreman told Ultiworld this week.
After a tumultuous start to the season that, according to players, included disorganized tryouts and unfocused practices, there was increasing tension between the coach and top players. The issue came to a head in a team meeting last week, where both sides attempted to come to an agreement about how to move forward, but couldn’t find common ground.
A group of players told management that they would quit the team if Coffin were to remain the coach. Foreman determined that Coffin had off-the-field issues that were getting in the way of his ability to effectively coach and reassigned him to a community relations position in the organization, removing him as head coach.
“What had happened was that coach Coffin had some real personal issues going on…that were really bringing a level of stress that was starting to affect the team,” Foreman told Ultiworld.
“[Coffin] was not well organized. He failed to set expectations for what we would be working on and how we would be working on it,” said a Breeze player speaking on the condition of anonymity. “There was a general lack of communication.”
Others saw this not as the failure of Coffin, but of both sides not working to find a mutual understanding of how the other liked to work.
“There was a lack of respect for the coach — the players didn’t respect the coach,” said Breeze player Tim Spiridonov, who formerly played under Coffin at Maryland. “And so there was a lack of respect for the players because of that.”
“Respect has to be earned,” he added. “And both sides of the team didn’t take the right steps to earn that respect.”
Foreman agreed that there were personality issues. “Sad to say, in our world, the coach is the first to take the axe, even if there are other problems in the locker room,” he said. Coffin did not respond to a request for comment.
The team is now being led at practice by its captains Liam Shramko and Glenn Poole until a new coach is hired.
“We’re aggressively screening candidates and we expect to name a coach by the end of this week,” said Foreman.
Players interviewed said that they were happy with the team management’s responsiveness and are optimistic that the season will get off to a good start with a new coach.
The Breeze are set to face the Toronto Rush at their home opener on April 20th.
Disclosure: Breeze captain Glenn Poole is an Ultiworld staff writer.