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Apr 14, 2017 1:17 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

'Toxic' Relationship With Parents Forces Virginia McGovern To Step Down As Southampton Varsity Softball Head Coach

Virginia McGovern stepped down at Southampton varsity softball head coach on April 4. She will finish the season as the middle school coach.
Apr 17, 2017 10:38 AM

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."

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Parents get to involved in the kid's sports. So many parents think their kids are better than they are. Take a step back and let the coaches coach.
By disappointed (90), wainscott on Apr 14, 17 2:42 PM
Agree with disappointed, 100%...
By knitter (1129), Southampton on Apr 14, 17 6:19 PM
Have no idea what is going on in this situation but have known several coaches that have lost there jobs or have had trouble with overzealous parents.Sports like life is about learning to get along and adapt to situations that present themselves.A good parent will stand back and let there child learn
By vag (12), southampton on Apr 14, 17 8:04 PM
3 members liked this comment
As a long time Section XI official, I can attest to the fact that Ms. Mc Govern was not only a fine coach, but also treated her players with dignity and respect. Shame on those parents who caused her to step down.
By tenn tom (187), remsenburg on Apr 15, 17 7:06 AM
What a shame. This district has too many know-it-alls
By Infoseeker (257), Hampton Bays on Apr 15, 17 2:27 PM
Shame on the parents...Helicopter parents.... Unfortunately the children lose in this situation...
By guest (59), Bridgehampton on Apr 15, 17 2:49 PM
Not BIDDY BALL. Everyone does not get a trophy and have to play. This is BIG GIRL sports.
By knitter (1129), Southampton on Apr 15, 17 2:53 PM
1 member liked this comment
Knitter, unfortunately schools even treat JV and Varsity like biddy ball. There is no competition or competitiveness and skill has become a thing of the past. Constructive criticism is seen as grounds for harassment and parents have become way too involved, not only with the coaches, but the functioning of a school's athletic program. It's not isolated to Southampton. Look on the East End at the excellent coaches who are no longer coaching. Between parents and Board of Ed members micromanaging or ...more
By SHres (18), Sag Harbor on Apr 17, 17 1:18 PM
Liberals ruin every institution they touch, from the Nobel Peace Prize Committee to the American Justice System to The US Public Education System. Competitive behavior is frowned upon as evidenced by the elimination of the Valedictorian honors among other things.
By even flow (600), East Hampton on Apr 17, 17 1:43 PM
Anyone commenting above have a daughter in the SH Varsity program and can speak from first-hand experience or are you just exercising your right to speak uninformed?
By harbor (331), East Hampton on Apr 18, 17 8:53 AM
Harbor, do you have a daughter there and can speak first hand or are you just speaking???
Than what is going on???
By knitter (1129), Southampton on Apr 18, 17 6:52 PM
It's a shame how youth sports has been ruined, often, but not always, by over zealous parents. Virginia is a great person. Her leaving is a big loss.
By HB90 (145), southampton on Apr 18, 17 7:04 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By anapple (1), Southampton on Apr 20, 17 9:01 AM
1 member liked this comment
I guess bullying happens on all levels. We spend thousands of dollars with workshops and different programs trying to teach out students the "horror" of bullying. How can we explain putting the blame on schools and teachers when it is obvious that parents are contributing to the bullying? Or is it okay because a parent is involved,I wonder if any of these parents ever reported a bullying incident against their child. Bullying is wrong. Can we all learn from this very unfortunate story.
By Hampton Hillbilly (8), Hampton Bays on Apr 20, 17 2:10 PM
These parents these days are such bullies and we wonder where the kids get it from. It isn't right either because these kids are losing amazing coaches like Virginia and others with awesome experience which they won't get elsewhere. Parents always point blame at the coach instead of the kid. As a parent if my kid isn't playing there probably is a reason behind it. Due to skill or behavior issue and I can deal with that and it will help push and make the kid a better athlete. Unless your kid is getting ...more
By turkeyloser (22), east quogue on Apr 26, 17 9:01 AM
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