The parent of a Chico High School basketball player who recently quit the team is telling KPAY that her comments were misconstrued by a Chico Enterprise-Record story on January 20th.
Nicole Roe is Derrek Gordon’s mother. Gordon left the Chico High varsity team after the Panthers win over Las Plumas on January 11th…..According to the Chico-ER story, Gordon’s mother felt her son was not wanted on the team anymore and “they” were looking for a reason to kick him off. Roe told KPAY she wanted to hold off on making a comprehensive statement NOW because of possible future litigation. She says she is still mulling over whether to file a lawsuit against Chico Unified but wants to make it clear her problems are with the Chico Unified School District; with the basketball team just PART of the problem……
Roe’s son, Gordon was suspended for three days earlier this year after he took a picture at the Almond Bowl and posted it to his Facebook page. The photo included a school official. Roe told the Chico-ER that when her son was suspended the school didn’t contact her.
Roe told KPAY that her problems extend well beyond the hoops court and that the Chico-ER story on January 20th mis-characterized her grievance. She says that she never called head coach Kirk Bruchler a racist, and that she never meant to infer that fellow players Trevon Reid and Eli Penick were leaving the team for the same reasons as her son. Chico-ER reporter Joseph Shufleberger says he stands by his story.
Reid, who was a stand-out football player at Chico High, contacted KPAY and felt it was unfair that he was made part of the story. Now, Reid and several other former African-American players and parents are coming to Bruchler’s defense as they believe the insinuations in the article need to be rebuffed. Reid quit the team on the same day Penick and Gordon left. But, he told KPAY that he left the team so he could focus on football and it had nothing to do with the perceived problems invoked by Roe and her son.
Reid says that he is only guilty of “bad timing” in quitting, since he wanted to focus on football and Penick wanted to train and get ready for the track and field season. Reid added that he was surprised to learn that Roe even alluded to them in the article since his situation didn’t have anything to do with her son’s situation…..
Reid says he would have liked more playing time but understood why other players were getting time in front of him and felt like it was better to get a head-start on football for next season rather than play basketball. He says he has been the treated differently at school since the January 20th Chico-ER article tied him to the controversy.
Reid’s mother, Crystal Johnson, said she was not happy to see her son’s name tied to the accusations and feels that her son’s situation was not clearly communicated in the initial article. Johnson said her son wanted to rest his shoulder which has been injuried numerous times in his high school football playing career. She says that Reid also wanted to focus on his wide receiver skills since he will be adapting to a new position when he plays at either Butte or a four-year school next season.
Former Chico High stand-out, Kenneth McMillan is now at Butte College. McMillan is having a great season for the Roadrunners and played two seasons for Bruchler. He says his time with the coach was great….and feels the insinuations against Bruchler are not fair…..
McMillan and Sterling Smith were a dynamic one-two punch at Chico High. Smith is currently playing at Division I Coppin State. He told KPAY he was mad when first hearing what was being written about his former head coach….
Smith said Bruchler was more than fair to everyone on the team. He told KPAY that there were several different ethnicities on the squad and no one ever felt they were being treated differently…..
Smith added that Bruchler was more than a coach to him, adding that he was able to have real-life conversations that didn’t center around basketball.
Renne Sacks-Smith is the mother of Sterling Smith. She says that the accusations sound nothing like the Kirk Bruchler she knows…..
Sacks-Smith says Bruchler was always fair. She says in her basketball crazy house-hold they didn’t always agree with his coaching philosophy, but he was a good coach and a great teacher to her son….
Sacks-Smith says racism is real, but she believes, in this instance, it’s far from the truth. She adds that many parents are afraid to step forward and support the coach because they don’t want to get embroiled in the controversy. She says she felt such an injustice was being done to Bruchler that she had to step forward and defend him….
Chico High officials told the Chico-ER they can not speak on the allegations citing confidentiality guidelines. Chico High Principal Jim Hanlon says he has worked with Bruchler for 12 years and he has “unquestioned integrity.” Bruchler said he couldn’t comment on the matter because its a student issue.
Roe tells KPAY that this is a bigger issue than basketball and says she believes there is unfair treatment at the Chico Unified School District with “racial undertones.” She adds she is still exploring her options and a lawsuit is a possibility. In the meantime, her son is still attending classes at Chico High School.