DES MOINES, Iowa -- After a state championship and sixteen total conference titles coaching track and field at Roosevelt High School, Joe McQuerry says the district's decision to not re-sign him wasn't just unexpected, he claims it was unjust. "These words were said to me, I'm not paraphrasing here. When you tell me that today's kid isn't tough enough for my coaching, today's kid needs more slack and less or no consequences that just blew me away," McQuerry said.
Mcquerry thought a meeting with Roosevelt administration in June helped clear the matter and he hadn't heard different until the decision was being made a week ago. "I can count on one hand and have fingers left over, how many times with this current administration where they've talked to me about things I'm not doing right," McQuerry said.
McQuerry says he was also told the program wasn't growing. "Last year was my largest team. Poised to win state this year," he said. McQuerry was told athletes weren't coming out next spring because he was the coach. A recent protest by current Roosevelt students and athletes and a petition with nearly 2,000 signatures paints a different picture. "To hear some of the stories people are saying, like me being tough but fair and that's how I've been."
McQuerry says the school claimed there was a bullying complaint against him while he helped coach the girls cross country team this fall. "That's mind boggling to know the type of relationship I have with those girls." McQuerry said his ethnicity did not come up in discussion but he received very little explanation behind the accusations. "They can't tell me who it is so I can't prove it but it's like where are you getting this?"
He believes the approach serves a purpose much deeper than track and field. "If you can handle me there's not a boss out there you can't handle. To say it doesn't work for today's kid, what are we really preparing them for when they can turn homework in whenever they want to?," said McQuerry.
The Des Moines Public School District would only respond saying coaching contracts are one-year renewable contracts. A decision to not renew a coach is not public record due to Iowa code. McQuerry says several schools have already reached out to him about coaching in the spring.