SOFTBALL-SHS parts ways with two-time Coach of the Year

Scott Maltman, Sandy's Athletic Director in 2008, was rehired as the school's AD this year, making this the third change in five years at the position.

Maltman's return is believed to be a long-term hire, allowing him to construct his vision for the Sandy athletic programs.

That vision will not include softball coach Laurie Smallwood, as the school dismissed her from coaching duties two weeks ago, ending her five-year tenure that saw the program rising to a power at the 5A level.

Maltman informed Smallwood of the school's decision not to renew her contract on Thursday, Sept. 27.

'We are going a different direction with our softball program,' said Matlman, who was hired as Sandy's AD in August.

Three years after Smallwood was hired, the Pioneers ended a nearly two-decade playoff drought, earning her the league's 2009 Coach of the Year award.

Smallwood won her second Coach of the Year award the following year, after the Pioneers finished in second place in the Mt. Hood Conference.

In 2011, after Sandy moved to the 5A Northwest Oregon Conference, the Pioneers finished in a tie for second place and reached the state quarterfinals for the first time in program history.

Off the field, the Pioneers have earned Dairy Farmers of Oregon Academic All-State honors each of the past three seasons-an award given to programs that cumulatively earn a 3.0 GPA or higher.

'I can walk away from this knowing we did what we set out to do,' said Smallwood, who is still an educational assistant at SHS.

With the programs numerous achievements during Smallwood's tenure, news of the firing has been met with criticism and confusion.

Parents of students who played for Smallwood have met with Maltman and Principal Tim Werner, seeking reasons for her contract not being renewed.

'I think (Maltman) really missed the boat on this one,' said Jim Rutledge, whose daughter Rachel, now a sophomore, played for Smallwood during her freshman year. '(Smallwood's) record speaks for itself. I told Scott, other than inappropriate behavior, he had no grounds to do this. Axing a coach that's that good is a step in the wrong direction, in my opinion.'

Gary Copher, whose daughter Taylor was the 2011 NWOC Player of the Year, expressed similar concerns upon hearing the news.

'How can you fire someone who has taken the program to heights it's never seen before?' he said.

While the end to the Pioneers' 2011 season was encouraging, the start to the new school year began with a disgruntled player's desire to see Smallwood terminated.

At the beginning to this years fall semester, the player sent a text message to numerous teammates, asking for three players to talk to her if they wanted to see Smallwood dismissed.

It is not known what transpired after the text message was sent.

SHS has begun advertising the positions vacancy. While not confirmed by SHS, sources say Portland State assistant softball coach Kellie Wilkerson has applied for the position. Wilkerson has worked with multiple Pioneer softball players in the past.

Smallwood's replacement will be the ambassador to a program that will implement a new set of priorities, which Maltman believes are essential to building an elite athletic department.

There will be a focus on fundraising and finances, insuring all students can participate in activities, even if they cannot afford the necessary fees.

Coaches will also be expected to conduct or participate in camps and clinics, allowing them to connect with young athletes in the community.

While Maltman's tenure is just two months old, the idea for his department is already under construction.

'We want a first class program, and we're spending time this year defining what is a first class program,' Maltman said.

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