Kiona-Benton head girls basketball coach Joe Wirtzberger was fired Wednesday after eight successful years on the job.
Wirtzberger informed his team, which he said supported him “100 percent.”
“They got rid of me. Said I was too hard on the girls,” Wirtzberger said. “I’ve never had an issue. In eight years you will have a few parent complaints ... I don’t really know other than they said I was too hard on the girls.”
Wirtzberger said the school told him he could resign or they would fire him, and he refused to resign. He is not a teacher at the high school.
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Kiona-Benton has seen its share of turmoil lately, including the girls wrestling coach Holly Graham applying for a restraining order against school board president Tim Cook.
“Honestly, I can’t say I’m 100 percent shocked because of what is going on in Benton City,” Wirtzberger said of his firing, “but I’m pretty shocked.”
In his eight years at the helm of the girls basketball program, he was named coach of the year or co-coach of the year five times in the SCAC East. The team consistently made the playoffs under his tutelage as well, finishing third at district this year.
“When I got there eight years ago, they were bad,” he said. “They’d win two games a year. Now, we should’ve won league this year. We were one game away, but a girl tore her ACL.
“Even though they were having a lot of turmoil, it didn’t affect us. We had great kids. I went to practice and then I went home. They didn’t really give me a reason, just said they aren’t going to renew my contract.”
The school also has an opening at head football coach after Charlie Hobbick resigned.