Mark Bonnevie was not in attendance Thursday night when the Regional School Unit 73 school board voted not to have him return as varsity football coach at Spruce Mountain High School. But he wasn't surprised with the outcome.
The board voted 3-6, with two abstentions and two directors absent, to reject Bonnevie's nomination for head football coach. The vote came after a 55-minute executive session that included high school principals Gilbert “Specs” Eaton of the North Campus in Jay and Steve Leunig of the South Campus in Livermore Falls, athletic director Sally Boivin and Spruce Mountain Middle School principal Scott Albert for portions of the session.
The position will be reposted and, if necessary, advertised to find a new coach.
Bonnevie, who is an administrative assistant at Spruce Mountain Middle School, expressed frustration and disappointment with the decision, but was reluctant to go into more detail about his reaction to the vote or comments made at the meeting.
"In the big picture, I'm not the first this has ever happened to and I'm sure I won't be the last," he said. "It's why people give up coaching when they don't want to, stuff like this."
"I've got lots to say but I don't want to say because I just can't," he added. "I've just got to let everything else speak for itself."
He said supporters wanted him to attend Thursday's meeting but he had grown weary of the process.
"I had so many meetings. I told them I'd done enough interviews and I'd done enough things that if they aren't going to go on my track record and things like that, I've got nothing else to say," he said.
Jay and Livermore Falls consolidated in early 2011 to form Spruce Mountain. On May 31, the board of directors accepted Superintendent Robert Wall's recommendation of Bonnevie as head coach by a vote of 11-1-1. The long-time rival high schools' sports teams merged on July 1 and the football team was assigned to the Campbell Conference Class B.
Spruce Mountain finished the regular season with a 4-4 record and lost to Mountain Valley in the Campbell Conference quarterfinals, 48-0.
Public comments at Thursday's meeting centered around playing time, lack of communication from coaches to players and organizing a summer football program.
Bonnevie declined to respond to the concerns raised at the meeting but hinted the problems surfaced before last season started.
"It was a year-long thing, most definitely," he said.
Prior to the merger, Bonnevie was head coach at Jay for nine years, where he compiled a 49-38 record and led the Tigers to the 2004 Western Class C title.
Former players, fellow coaches and friends started contacting Bonnevie early Friday to express their support.
"I've been on the phone or texting since ... I think the first one was at six o'clock (Friday) morning," Bonnevie said early Friday night.
Bonnevie said he would like to coach somewhere next fall.
"I'm like any coach. I coach because I love the game and I love kids. But sometimes there are other individuals who see it differently," he said.
"My coaching days aren't over. Let's put it that way," he added. "I will definitely be involved in the game somewhere."