Longtime head coach Robin Oliger is out at Durango High School.
Durango School District 9-R spokesperson Julie Popp confirmed the move Friday night, and superintendent Dan Snowberger said in a statement the rationale for her dismissal stemmed from actions by Oliger that led players to believe they had been selected for the team before tryouts.
“Any actions taken prior to tryouts to give the impression that players have been selected – including the purchase of a team shoe – place the integrity of the program in jeopardy,” Snowberger’s statement said. “This practice was directed to cease by the superintendent yet continued during this summer’s camps.”
Oliger, on the eve of her 26th season at DHS, could not be reached for comment.
She’s the 12th head coach at DHS since 2011 to either be fired or resign.
Oliger led DHS to a runner-up finish at state in 1994 and a third-place performance in 2006 and coached the Demons to state the last three seasons. Oliger has numerous Southwestern League, district and regional titles to her name and is a multiple-time SWL Coach of the Year winner, including Co-Coach of the Year honors last season with Bob Richardson of Fruita Monument, with whom DHS shared the SWL title.
“I don’t really keep track, to be honest,” Oliger said of the award in December. “It’s a reflection of these (players), actually. They made my job a lot easier this year.”
Three of Oliger’s players from last year – Natalie Bulen, Kennedy Clark and McKenna Franzen – signed on to play college volleyball this fall, and she’s had numerous former players play collegiately during her two tenures as DHS head coach. Bulen won SWL Player of the Year honors, the third consecutive year a DHS player claimed the award, with Sloan Lovett winning the other two.
Oliger was caught up last June in similar circumstances to the ones that got her dismissed, when James and Elizabeth Candelaria filed a notice of claim against the school district in relation to allegations that the district had been negligent, turning a blind eye to complaints about Oliger over her second run as DHS head coach.
The notice alleged that during a summer volleyball camp in Denver, Oliger took 12 girls, including the Candelaria’s daughter, Rianne, to a sporting goods store and arranged for the girls to purchase volleyball shoes for the upcoming 2011 season. It also alleged that Oliger bought shoes for a 13th player and that the coach later told Candelaria “not to wear her varsity shoes to tryouts because we don’t want to let anyone know that we have a team already,” then cut Candelaria, giving the spot to the 13th player she purchased shoes for.
Naming a team based on summer camps and before tryouts, alongside making summer camps manditory, would be a violation of Colorado High School Sports Association rules.
The notice also alleged that from 2003 to 2005, Oliger “harassed, humiliated and intimidated” former player Breanna Pritchard before she eventually quit the team. It also alleged Oliger retaliated against Candelaria in October 2010 for taking the PSAT instead of showing up early for a junior varsity match.
In an affidavit filed with the notice, Donna Nazario said that at a summer volleyball camp in 1996, Oliger threatened to “rip” her daughter Carmen Small’s “face off.”
When asked if it was a continuation of the issue with the Candelarias or a separate issue, Popp declined comment, citing the legal process.
“Upon investigation into the concern, the district found the staff member did violate the written directive ... and the district has chosen to eliminate the employee according to these infractions,” Popp said.