Suspended Robinson Secondary School girls basketball coach Traci Schneeweis yesterday said allegations brought against her by players and parents were a result of displeasure "with playing time" and a "personal vendetta."
Schneeweis, who has a seven-year record of 103-35 and led the Rams to last year's Virginia AAA state championship, was suspended from coaching Dec. 21 by Robinson Principal William Jackson. The team was 3-0 at the time and is now 6-1, with assistant principal Greg Coughan replacing Schneeweis.
At a news conference yesterday at a Springfield hotel called by Schneeweis and the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, Schneeweis said the allegations that surfaced late last season were a result of a few unhappy parents and players.
"I think a great majority of my team wants me back and I want to get back as soon as possible," she said.
It had been charged that Schneeweis selected players and allocated playing time based on personalities rather than skills, that she verbally abused players to embarrassment, that she rigged the secret ballot election for team captains and that she and her assistants laughed and "high-fived" after a player critical of Schneeweis quit the team following the first game of this season.
Schneeweis, with five current or former players standing behind her podium, said parents should not be able to gain her removal simply because they don't like her personally, disagree with her coaching methods or are disenchanted with the playing time given their daughters.
"I am sending a message to other coaches in the area that I am concerned about mixed messages this thing is creating," said Schneeweis. "These kids are supposed to be learning what life is about. Instead, they are learning how to beat the system."
Schneeweis maintained she did not know why she had been suspended. She said Jackson told her the reason was the charge by the parents of sophomore guard Cathy Robertson that she was not allowed to try out for the varsity this season because her parents were involved in the group opposing Schneeweis.
This season, four girls who played last year chose not to go out for the team. In naming each, Schneeweis said one "missed practice with excuses which ranged from officiating soccer to going out to dinner." She said another was "sick or hurt most of the season and . . . her talents were very limited."
Jackson has refused to comment on the suspension. Yesterday, Robinson Athletic Director Don Reviere said he could not comment.
Schneeweis said she had not been aware of the problems until recently.
"Parents never once came to me to voice their concerns," she said. "Had these parents chosen to speak or meet with me in the beginning, we would not be here today. Now, this has turned into their personal vendetta."
Jane Phillips, whose daughter, Heather, a junior, is one of the metropolitan area's top players, said the parents originally met twice with Jackson in the spring. But on June 25 and Oct. 23, she said meetings were held with Schneeweis, parents, players and Jackson.
Phillips said the parents' group would continue to press its concerns about Schneeweis until the situation is settled.
Senior guard Anne Metzger said Schneeweis is a disciplinarian and very demanding, but she agreed with Schneeweis's coaching methods.
"I have played for tougher coaches," said Metzger. "This whole thing has just been a big pain in the butt and should have never happened. I hope it is resolved soon, because I want my coach back."