THIS STORY WAS UPDATED WEDNESDAY, DEC. 5 AT 3 P.M. TO INCLUDE INTERVIEWS WITH MVHS ATHLETIC DIRECTOR JIM FLANIGAN AND FORMER MVHS ATHLETIC DIRECTOR PAT MCCABE.
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For 18 years Ric Cash has been the head coach for the Mountain Vista High School Golden Eagles varsity football team.
At 7:46 Tuesday morning the football community received an email detailing Cash’s decision to resign. Cash then sent a text to a meeting with the football players before first period.
“It is with heart that I have officially submitted my resignation as Head Coach,” Cash said in the email. “After several conversations with those close to me and much more soul-searching, I have come to realize that what I want may not be what is best for the program at this point”
Cash made a clear point that the “toxicity” he mentioned in his letter refers to a variety of “broken fractures” in the football program. He said it wasn’t one specific event that led to his decision to resign, but instead, it was what he believed was best for the program.
“[The] toxicity had become more and more prevalent,” Cash said. “[I was not] 100 percent certain I could [change several things] without a lot of conflict and a lot of potential damage to other people. To me, that was not necessary or worth it. In my mind, hopefully [this] creates opportunity [for a new head coach] to come in and provide a new voice and new opportunities.”
“To get things moving in a positive direction there are a number of things that need to be healed or fixed or changed,” Cash said. “I’m not going to get into specifics because I don’t think those are things that need to be brought up.”
“Anytime that a football team goes 1-9, there are going to be people who detract or tell an athletic director or a coach or players, ‘We’d be winning if we did this or [this or this],’” Athletic Director Jim Flanigan said. “I think that when things like that get out there, that environment can become toxic — meaning that when you’re not winning, people say more and more things and then that gets to players and then that gets to other coaches and that gets within the program.”
“I think what Ric is saying is he feels like his situation has become that way and therefore, due to the person that he is, that he feels what’s in the best interest of Mountain Vista football is for a new voice to come in,” Flanigan said.
“[Flanigan, Principal Mike Weaver, and I] had conversations,” Cash said, “and in their mind, I was coming back as head coach, [but] we were going to put some pieces in place as far as plans for the next year. They were confident I could lead the program in the right way and I had every intention to, until last Thursday [when] I came to my decision to allow the program to move forward without me”
Flanigan said Cash was not forced out of his position. “Ric and I had met about things that we wanted to see as change in the program and Ric, upon reflecting, came to his decision,” Flanigan said, adding he and Cash had talked and were in agreement about changes they were planning to make with the football program. “We talked about some things such as practice schedule and coaching changes within his staff,” Flanigan said.
“We had conversations about change we wanted to see in the program moving forward, but we [Principal Weaver and I] expected that Ric would be the one to institute that change,” Flanigan said.
Cash, who teaches physical education, said last Thursday was the day he was able to reflect on what he believed would be the right decision. He said he is at peace with what he decided. Cash explained that he still cares deeply about Mountain Vista and the football program. He said he is so thankful for everything the Vista community has done for him and his family.
“I think that’s why it was important to me to do this because it is an ongoing reflection of how I believe [people] should handle situations and how [people] should approach challenges and difficulties and doing what’s right even when it’s difficult or not what you wanted,” Cash said. “For me, as much as this may not be as much of what I want or wanted to happen, this is what I feel is best. It behooves me to walk that walk if that is the last lesson I teach the football players in terms of doing what you know is right and walking with integrity, then so be it.”
Some of the varsity players reported that they knew after the “rough” 1-9 season there was going to be some kind of change in the program’s structure.
“I was shocked when he was the one who decided to step down,” varsity football player Matt Smith, a junior, said. “We all knew he had plans for the future and with his family, but it was a big step for him.”
“He isn’t doing this selfishly. He has every players heart in his hand. He thinks this is what’s best he is doing this for us,” varsity player Bryce Williams, senior, said.
“I kind of want to talk to the student body,” Smith said. “[The] football program does support all the other sports. This year was a rough year. People are frustrated. I would like to ask people for support. It was rough walking through the halls and hearing all that kind of stuff. We just need support right now.”
“Sometimes a change is needed,” Smith said. “But Cash will be missed in the program because [when he is] walking through the hallway he knows every single football player’s name, number and everything about them and I’m gonna miss that about him.”
Cash said he believes the position will be filled as soon as possible, adding there is a sense of urgency, but a tight deadline won’t be compromised if school officials cannot find someone who is the right choice.
Flanigan said he would send a letter to the MVHS community this afternoon. “We will post the position on Friday [and] leave it open for a couple of weeks [to] see who is available. Then we will form interview committees. We will try to interview after the holidays [because] I don’t think we can get it done before Christmas. We’ve got time though,” Flanigan said.
“I’m going to reach out to the community to see what they’re looking for,” he said. “I think it’s important to talk to kids and know what there looking for. [For] me, personally, I look for people who develop really strong relationships with kids. Whether that is a football coach that is a very prominent position or a field hockey coach, I’m looking for someone who develops relationships with kids and cares [them].”
The news of Cash’s resignation has even affected others outside of the Vista community.
“In Coach Cash’s 18 years he has done an extraordinary job,” Arapahoe High School athletic director Pat McCabe, who was the athletic director at MVHS, said. “Absent from the knowledge and design of so many other coaches, Ric had a vision and understanding of exactly what he was trying to accomplish working within the football program and with the students of Mountain Vista High School.”
“In terms of legacy, it will be a very long time before anybody can claim to have positively impacted the direction of nearly as many young men and women leaving Mountain Vista and embarking on the next steps in their lives,” McCabe said. “I hope that Coach Cash will quickly find himself in another position where he can influence so many.”
Weaver said he had little detail about the situation and would prefer to be interviewed at a later time.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Additional reporting by Michael Place.