Due to a strained relationship with players' parents, Virginia McGovern stepped down as head coach of the Southampton varsity softball team, after more than 11 years of service, two weeks into the season on April 4.
McGovern coached her first season with Southampton in the spring of 2006, just two years after graduating from Southampton College, where she played four years of collegiate softball. She graduated from Hampton Bays High School in 2000. Southampton Athletic Director Darren Phillips confirmed earlier this week that McGovern stepped down.
McGovern explained on Friday that the relationship between herself and the parents had become "toxic," that it affected her behavior, her personal health and the way she coaches.
"In my opinion, it also affected the way players responded to our coaching staff on the field," she said.
"It broke my heart" to step down, McGovern added. "I love the kids and I love the game. I do not believe in walking away, but in this situation, I felt it was the best resolution for all involved."
McGovern has stayed on as the middle school head coach. Shakoya Davis, who was coaching that middle school team, was moved up to the varsity team to assist Tania Ciancio, McGovern's longtime assistant coach who has taken over the varsity team. Davis was the head coach of the Pierson/Bridgehampton softball team last season but opted not to reapply for that position in the offseason.
It is a rare occurrence in high school athletics for coaches to step down mid-season. McGovern said she thought stepping away when she did would give the team somewhat of a fresh start and, "was the best option for the team to be successful for the rest of the season."
Phillips said he tried to convince McGovern to finish the season on varsity but was unsuccessful in doing so.
"We just felt like it was in the best interest for her to step down," Phillips said. "Virginia didn't want to leave the program hanging—it's very hard to find a replacement mid-season—so she did agree to stay on as the middle school coach.
"It's not the best situation. It's unfortunate the way things happened," he added. "We just have to move on and finish out the season. Hopefully Tania and Shakoya can finish out the season with some wins and get the team back to the playoffs."