By Benito VilaÂ
In a not-to-be-believed week of snowballing events, Fred Marienfeld, Pierson High School’s varsity basketball coach since 2005, was relieved of his coaching duties last Thursday afternoon by the school administration. The action was taken following the publication of an interview in the East Hampton Star in which Coach Marienfeld described conflicts he had with two players and their parents.Â
In giving his perspective on the events in question, Coach Marienfeld publicly pointed out the shortcomings of those players, in their preparation and emotional make-up. Explaining the firing Friday morning, Pierson athletic director Bill Madsen said, “Our expectation is that our coaches will treat our student athletes with dignity and respect and Coach didn’t meet that expectation.”
Dissatisfaction between the parents, players and coach started early in the season, when one player was cut and the other quit when he was not named captain. The administration instructed the coach to take both players back after much discussion and debate.
Coach Marienfeld’s suspension for cursing in a halftime team meeting during a loss to Mercy, January 6, followed immediately by the two players quitting the team after a grueling practice the next day, added to the hostilities, leading Star reporter Jack Graves to delve into the conflict.
Meet the New Coach
The Whalers were led by JV coach Kevin Barron in their Friday night home game against Mercy, building a 26-21 halftime lead before falling 59-43. After that game, Madsen announced the appointment of Christian Johns to serve as interim head coach for the balance of the season.
Coach Johns is a special education instructor in the Pierson Middle School and has previously coached boys’ middle school basketball and girls’ varsity basketball at Pierson and boys’ lacrosse at East Hampton. A graduate of Lakeland High School (Yorktown Heights, NY), he played lacrosse for Division I Loyola College (Md.) before graduating in 1995.
Coach Johns has had a role in the special education department at Pierson since 1999 and has been a full-time teacher there since 2004. He was courtside for the first time Saturday, the Whalers traveling to Shelter Island for a non-league game and coming home with a convincing 60-34 win.
Above, Coach Fred Marienfeld (right) at a Whaler team practice in 2007