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Dixon High School Cheerleaders, Parents Air Complaints About Cheer Program, Coach

During almost an hour of public comments at last night’s school board meeting, several cheerleaders and parents spoke out against DHS’ cheer program

Editor's note: Calls to DHS Cheer Coach Robin Chavez were not returned.

While several members of Dixon High’s varsity and junior varsity football squads were , Dixon High cheerleaders and their parents had complaints of their own.

Several cheerleaders took to the podium during the regular meeting of the last night to voice their concerns about the cheer program and specifically, the coaching style of Cheer Coach Robin Chavez.

“The coach, she is … she was very rude and she didn’t want anything to do with us,” said Megan Hannon, 15, a sophomore at Dixon High School. “She just completely ignored us.”

Hannon and her fellow cheerleaders complained that Chavez’ cheer squad is disorganized and that she doesn't motivate them.

A common complaint aired last night was that Chavez would openly say that she “couldn’t wait to get rid” of the cheerleaders, many of them said.

Dixon High Athletic Director Tom Crumpacker said the decision to retain Coach Chavez was made by Principal John Barsotti and that he stands by Barsotti's decision.

"With regard to cheer I have had some students come to me and say they would like to see a person from the outside as a coach, but we will hear that every year about every sport," Crumpacker said. "Not everybody is going to be satisfied and in some people's cases they might become disgruntled. But are they the whole? And the answer is no ... and you need to look at that. Where are the other people?"

The cheerleaders were largely in favor of hiring their former cheer coaches, Korie Robinson and Courtney Hennigan. Most of the girls on DHS’ cheer squad came to know the Dixon duo in youth cheer, according to Hennigan and Robinson.

Hennigan and Robinson had their own concerns about DHS’ cheer program.

“The lack of safety and organization,” Robinson said, when asked about her concerns. “At this level, they see more variety, there’s not a lot of variety (in the routines).”

Crumpacker responded to the safety concerns.

"I was in the gym probably at least five of their practices," he said. "They had the safety pads underneath them. She was really stopping them, step-by-step going through the safety procedures on how to do tosses and catches and so forth. Robin has extensive experience. She was at Will C. Wood for over a decade and she also brought some of her previous cheerleaders to instruct. With regards to safety precautions, I know nothing about that. Everything I saw was taught properly."

Robinson and Hennigan did not speak during the public comments portion of the school board meeting, but outside of the meeting they took the time to talk with DHS Principal John Barsotti who listened to their concerns and those of parents and cheerleaders.

“It’s good to get people’s perspectives,” Barsotti said

Barsotti vowed to meet with them throughout the week and listen to their concerns, to try and find a solution that’s fair to everyone.

Hennigan said that her and Robinson have known most of the girls on DHS’ cheer team since they were seven years old during youth cheer.

“It’s a labor of love,” Henningan said, explaining why they would like to coach cheer for DHS.

Robinson told Barsotti that safety is a primary concern. She told him that the current coach, Chavez, doesn’t teach them appropriate techniques that are important in keeping the girls safe. But Crumpacker refutes the claim and said he has seen Coach Chavez take the appropriate safety precautions.

Crumpacker said Chavez has brought many positives to the cheer program and not everyone is disgruntled. For example, radio station KFBK out of Sacramento recognized the coach for run at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery and distributing the wreaths back in December.

The public comments made during the meeting last night were made in conjunction with comments made in support of DHS JV Coach Troy Hensley and critical of Varsity Coach Wes Besseghini.

The school board did not engage in dialogue with any of the public speakers because the topic was not an agenda-based item.

"I was pleased with Coach Chavez," Crumpacker said. "I felt that she soundly came into the program and like any other coach they are learning the steps."

Check out what the cheerleaders and some parents told the school board in the attached video.

cheer dad February 06, 2012 at 05:01 AM
I am curious to hear the opinion of the cheerleaders and their parents as a whole. I am the father of a daughter who is not currently involved in the Dixon cheer program. I have learned a respect for cheer and the athleticism and skill that are required to preform at a competitive level. I am also aware of the dedication and support that is required from a coaching staff in order to have a safe and successful program. I cannot speak of Coach Chavez’s practice procedures. I will take Mr. Crumpacker word that he has verified safe practices being implemented during training. I have however noted the squad to be undisciplined during game situations where there are no safety mats. At these times I also noted Coach Chavez as absent. I agree that if this is in fact the view of the minority than other options are available (dance or alternate sports/clubs). But once again I would like to hear the voice of the collective. Are there team members or parents that have spoken out in defense of Coach Chavez? For our children’s sake this should require further investigation. All qualified applicants should be considered. This is the forum in where I would expect someone to express their grievances without being accused of complaining. Expressing your view is exactly how to affect change. Hopefully all voices will be accounted for.
Chelsea Hagen February 06, 2012 at 05:03 AM
***yes rachel. i ment cheer.
Chelsea Hagen February 06, 2012 at 05:06 AM
look here, cheerful, the only reason why we say "we like these other coaches so hire them" is because THEY ACTUALLY KNOW HOW TO COACH.
Chelsea Hagen February 06, 2012 at 05:15 AM
I like Robin Chavez as a person, she's very nice, but i did not like how she had other people coaching us. I wish that she could have been more involved in our cheering.
Czarina Tomala February 06, 2012 at 05:17 AM
I am a cheerleader who did not cheer last year with dhs but the previous year i did. And from what i heard from girls from all different grades was that she practically never wanted to be their coach from the way she acted towards them. Especially with having 18 and 19 year olds come and coach for her. From my knowledge i thought schools werent allowed to have people come and coach unless they are at least 3 or 4 years out of high school, and if crum knows this rule and is letting the coach break it then that is him not taking his job seriously enough because for all he knows the "steps" they were showing the girls could be dangerous to them in the end. I also heard that she is trying to have parents come in and coach for her if she is re-hired for next year and as a majority of us cheerleaders know parents coaching about something they know hardly nothing about doesnt work. All i know is I will not be cheering next year if she will be coaching
Czarina Tomala February 06, 2012 at 05:20 AM
Also many of the cheerleaders are considering switching to other high schools that take this coaching matter seriously, unlike dixon is doing right now.
Cheerful February 06, 2012 at 05:50 AM
What I am saying is that the subject is further muddled by preselecting another coach. I too want to see a safe program for the cheerleaders. What I do see in the video are discussions of having not participated this year, getting the information third hand from comments that "i heard from the other girls that..." and "I talked to the girls and they , said", being upset that the coaches were not willing to let the cheerleaders participate in more than one sport. In the comments online a student discussed the coach bringing in other parents to help and that changes to other past cheerleaders, common in other programs.
Cheerful February 06, 2012 at 05:50 AM
If safety or coach behavior is an issue, usually it is addressed during the season and with all parties involved. You cannot expect administrators to address these issues and follow up when they have no concrete activities or events to follow up on. It would be nice to hear from current squad members, what programmatic changes could be made to solve problems and how to move forward. Not focusing on solutions other than direct replacement is short sighted, you need to address the concerns directly. There is a process for hiring, firing and coach selection. This coach could leave, but you could have another coach other than your hand selected choice. This process is administered by the Athletic Director (this is why Mr. Crumpacker does have a direct say on this issue) and the principal. Now on to complaining. This is complaining. Complaining is to express grief, pain, or discontent or to make a formal accusation or charge. That is what you are doing.
Glenda Stormont February 06, 2012 at 06:05 AM
I am a parent of a student who has cheered for DHS for the last two years. I agree with their concerns. Our cheer program has been a real disappointment. I have regretted investing my time and money. I don't think this school knows what a good coach is and it sounds like we are going to have another bad year. I have seen Coach Korie and Courtney's coaching style and I am impressed. If DHS does not hire these Coaches they will miss a real opportunity to give these girls a real rewarding experience and a squad the school can be proud of. How many parents and students need to complain before you consider this situation a problem. If Ms. Chavez ends up being the coach next year I will not sit idly by while she puts minimum effort to get through the season.
Glenda Stormont February 06, 2012 at 06:06 AM
I am a parent of a student who has cheered for DHS for the last two years. I agree with their concerns. Our cheer program has been a real disappointment. I have regretted investing my time and money. I don't think this school knows what a good coach is and it sounds like we are going to have another bad year. I have seen Coach Korie and Courtney's coaching style and I am impressed. If DHS does not hire these Coaches they will miss a real opportunity to give these girls a real rewarding experience and a squad the school can be proud of. How many parents and students need to complain before you consider this situation a problem. If Ms. Chavez ends up being the coach next year I will not sit idly by while she puts minimum effort to get through the season.
Rachel Teeter February 06, 2012 at 06:16 AM
Most of the time we practiced at North West, and we were stunting. You call that safety? Dixon High School is suppose to provide us a place to practice. It isn't safe for us to practice at a park.
Rachel Teeter February 06, 2012 at 06:34 AM
Also, coach chav either wouldn't be there, be late, or when she was there didn't pay attention to us. The girls that were 18-19 were watching us
adrienne February 06, 2012 at 06:42 AM
I agree with with what the cheerleadears and parents are saying. I am a parent of a cheerleader from last year. I did not complain then because she made it clear she was not returning. My daughter has cheered in the past, and this year was the worst. Chav always forgot the JV's music for 1/2 time routine, but Varsity always seem to have theirs. She was late to all the away games. She talked about other cheerleaders to me in a negative way and made the comment that she was not returning the following year. There was no communication on her part. Everything was last minute through facebook. Did not organize rides for away games, and said that whoever doesnt have a ride gets left behind. I feel bad for the girls especially JV. We paid ALOT of money and I did not get my moneys worth. Very disappointed in coach chav. I highly doubt my daughter will be cheering this coming year if she is still coaching.
Chelsea Hagen February 06, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Why cant us parents and cheerleaders get what we want because WE are the ones paying thousands of dollars for something that right now isnt even worth it.
Chris Hansen February 06, 2012 at 10:52 PM
I am appalled with everything I'm reading. She was my daughter's coach at WCW for four years. She was a GREAT coach!! I have been at games, practices and helped with many aspects of cheerleading. Coach Chavez has amazing credentials, and true love for cheerleading. She has always encouraged her girls to be involved in community service and to be a TEAM. It's been made quite apparent that this is all over "all of you" wanting these two youth coaches. How sad? You do not get to choose your child's coaches with anything. There is a district process that is followed, and should be respected. It it truly sad that each of you who are "complaining and voicing your opinions" can't respect her and the school's choices. What a loss for those of you that feel this way.
Aaron February 06, 2012 at 11:05 PM
In the last four years I have been attending DHS football games, I can say I have not been impressed at all with the cheering program. Year after year it's the same thing... one cheer, then the girls mill around the track chatting with each other for a while, others using their cell phones, and perhaps twenty minutes later, another cheer followed by some milling around again. Is eight cheers per game along with walking hand-in-hand across the field to meet with the other school's cheerleaders all there is to the program? Perhaps the coach would be more motivated if the girls put more into the program...? i don't see it as a "coaching" problem... I see it as a problem finding girls that really want to take a leadership role in a program (rather than just wearing a cute uniform to school on Friday). Take the coach they give you and make the program what you want it to be! One of you girls needs to be a cheerleader-LEADER!!
Anonymous February 06, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Aaron, I agree with you except for the comment about it not being a coaching issue. A coach should lead by example and motivate his or her cheerleaders. If the coach is on the sideline talking on the phone can you blame the cheerleaders for doing the same? If the coach doesn't care what they look like on the sidelines or at halftime and doesn't even show up to practice what does that say? I think it says she doesn't care. You cannot expect the cheerleaders to practice on their own... in fact, it is not allowed by policy. The coach is being paid to teach life skills and instead she is letting the program go further by the way side. They need coaches who are going to fix the issues you mentioned with hard work, dedication and discipline. Educators are supposed to teach students...
Cristi Guglielmoni February 06, 2012 at 11:33 PM
I will speak up for a terrific coach! Coach Robin Chavez was my daughter's coach for 4 years and she is one of the best. These snotty comments by mostly teenagers that are trashing the reputation of a great coach just because they want these 2 girls to be their coach, is appalling! I was very involved as a parent and my daughter was never in any danger! She would never put the kids in any harms way and to say so otherwise if just ludicrous! There are protocols to follow and I don't know of any school that lets the kids and parents pick the coaches, it doesn't happen that way anywhere. These kids and parents better think long and hard about making these rude comments and hurting a very kind and caring person.
Meshell Louderman February 07, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Aaron & Cristi. I agree we probably all could have handled the situation much better. As you can see, due to the school administration not listening to their concerns, they've reached a point of true frustration. It is true there is a process for hiring & firing coaches. The problem is that concerns were raised with the school & nobody listened. I do not have a daughter on a cheer team, however, my son plays football so I was at every Dixon home and away game. I have first hand knowledge to back-up many of the claims by the girls. I never did figure out who the coach was because I never saw a coach out on the field with the girls. The apparent coaches I did see, were sitting in the stands & looked more like spectators than coaches. I saw girls doing stunts without the proper spotters. I saw them stunting far too close to cement curbs along the track. Sometimes they couldn't cheer because the coach wasn't there. Other times they didn't cheer because they were working on their half time routine. Yes the girls have to be held accountable for what they put in (or lack there of), however, the coach must demand respect, involvement, & professionalism from their students. If they demand it & don't get it, then the student doesn't participate. From what I saw, the coach was never engaged in the program. She may have had a great season at WCW, however, at DHS she just never engaged in the program. Everyone has a lot of pent up frustrations. That's what you see going on here.
Rachel Teeter February 07, 2012 at 01:06 AM
I was a cheerleader last season. It was not organized whats so ever. We got ahold of each other LAST MINUTE on Facebook. The last two seasons we have had at DHS were terrible. Neither of them were organized. Coach Chav was a nice lady, but I didn't like how she talked to cheerleaders, and cheer moms about girls on the team in a negative way. She was rarley ever there, on time. At away games, she wouldn't get there till the middle of the second quater. We couldn't cheer till she got there. She may have had been a great coach at WCW, but no at DHS. When we practiced at the park, we had girls that graduated in 2011 watching us, and it wasn't safe. Courtney, and Korie amazing coachs, they may have been youth coachs, but they were AMAZING. I wish this year could have gone way better than it has. We need a coach that is a LEADER. We need a coach that will teach us her self. She told parents, and cheerleaders that she wasn't going to coach this year, because of the season she has had. As you can see, we have different opinions. Just because she was a terrific coach in vacaville, doesn't mean she was here.
Courtney Hennigan February 07, 2012 at 02:26 AM
First, I appreciate Mr. Villatoro’s article about cheerleading at DHS. Often times cheerleading is in the shadows of the football program and its needs and concerns are often unreported or ignored. I just wanted to add further explanation to some of the things reported and explain the larger concerns which Korie and I have for the cheerleading program at DHS. While we appreciate the girls and parents advocating/campaigning on our behalf, I think explaining where Korie and I come from is important to share. For the past two years, cheerleaders have been sharing their concerns with us about the cheerleading program. As mentors and coaches, we continue to support the cheerleaders and always encourage them to work harder, push through the difficult aspects and always remember their love for the sport. We are happy to hear that Mr. Crumpacker attended practices and made note that the team was using mats. Our concerns about safety are based upon our own observations when attending football games and are not intended to question the qualifications of Coach Chavez and her staff. After years of coaching (at the high school level, all-star/competitive, and yes, youth cheer), completing cheer safety training repeatedly, and of course being on the sidelines with our various cheerleading squads, we’ve become very aware of unsafe surfaces, spaces, obstacles and proper supervision while stunting and performing. [...]
Courtney Hennigan February 07, 2012 at 02:26 AM
The past few seasons we’ve witnessed unsafe practices happening in performance situations. We are genuinely concerned for these girls, and because there did not appear to be coaching staff on hand to put a stop to it, or at least advise the girls to find an appropriate alternative, we expressed this as a concern of ours, when asked by Mr. Villatoro. We have no doubt that the girls are being instructed and taught to use safe methods. The comment about “variety” as quoted by Mr. Villatoro was not intended to describe the routines performed by DHS cheerleaders. The “variety” Korie and I discussed was in reference to the variety of skills (tumbling, stunting, dancing, halftime vs. competition level routines, etc.) which should be displayed at the high school level. Currently the DHS program does not seem to be excelling in any of these areas, when compared to other high school cheerleading programs. And DHS did not send a team to any cheerleading competitions this season, which is truly a wasted opportunity for our girls. Based on our own observations, not secondhand information, it seems as though the DHS cheer program has room for improvement and Korie and I would like to be considered as a coaching option. And we would know, if not selected for the position, that the coaching team which is/was hired was a better fit for the team, and would continue to support the growth of these athletes. [...]
Courtney Hennigan February 07, 2012 at 02:28 AM
We expressed our interest in the coaching position and were quickly informed by Mr. Crumpacker that we would not be considered, which set off further concern about the process by which DHS is selecting its coaches. As mentioned in the article, “Dixon High Athletic Director Tom Crumpacker said the decision to retain Coach Chavez was made by Principal John Barsotti and that he stands by Barsotti's decision.” After the board meeting, and a very nice discussion with Principal Barsotti, it was obvious that he had never been informed of our interest in the program. It was clear to Korie and I that the hiring policy/process does not take into consideration the success of the previous season(s), the athletes’ experiences, the feedback of the parents, or give consideration to potential applicants. And while this method might work for the private sector, this is a public school system and a sports program primarily funded by parents and supported by the community; a community which is not being given a voice. So I do agree that the board meeting and this forum have created that opportunity and what we’re hearing is frustration. .
Courtney Hennigan February 07, 2012 at 02:28 AM
And while Korie and I appreciate our former cheerleaders loyalty and support, the success of the cheerleading program, and an improved/positive experience for future seasons is the most important in our view. I think the board meeting as a whole has encouraged the board to look into these procedures and now that this topic is on the agenda for the next board meeting, I would like to encourage you all to attend. I would question this statement by Mr. Crumpacker though, "Not everybody is going to be satisfied and in some people's cases they might become disgruntled. But are they the whole? And the answer is no ... and you need to look at that. Where are the other people?” While I agree with his logic, and would like to hear from the DHS cheerleaders who have been enjoying the program, he is also failing to hear the concerns of those who ARE unhappy, and seemingly downplaying/ignoring the concerns of these “disgruntled” athletes and parents. As a school administrator and decision-maker for our sports teams, I am disappointed in what message this sends.
Courtney Hennigan February 07, 2012 at 02:28 AM
Furthermore, I’d like to ask the cheerleaders who are unhappy with their experiences with the cheer program to really spend some time thinking about what changes they would like to see (constructive, positive, specific ideas) and let those ideas be heard louder than these posts which are clearly fueled by your dissatisfaction. If you don’t like last minute decisions, ask for a structured schedule of events. If you think the costs of the program were too steep, ask for more fundraising opportunities. Please do not leave the sport if you truly love it! I hope DHS hears your voices and doesn’t lose you and your talent for good, or to other cheerleading programs. DHS has the potential and the talent to have an amazing cheer team.
KDC<3 February 07, 2012 at 11:15 PM
I cheered last year for DHS and I thought that Coach chav was a good coach..she may not have been very organized but I understand because she was asked last minute to coach. I believe she kept us safe and she always encouraged is to do more and she always said we did great and supported us when we didnt believe we were going to do good. If it wasn't for her we would not have done any of the fundraisers we participated and we would not be that involved in things. She WAS A GREAT COACH AND I DON'T WANT HER TO LEAVE!
Korie Robinson February 09, 2012 at 12:05 AM
http://www.nfhs.org/CoachingTodayContent.aspx?id=6567
jazmin locks February 10, 2012 at 03:42 AM
I was a cheerleader as well and honestly I'm embarrassed in you girls for saying this stuff about them. I understand chav wasn't always there but she has personal stuff on. As for the girls coaching us they volunteered their time they didn't get paid and they are all going to college as well for them going out of there way to help us and try and be there for us as much as they could was way more then enough! You guys should be thanking them for trying their best to help us! They don't deserve you guys saying this about them their human to and they gave us there all there young too! They tried to make us close and feel like a squad but they can't make u be a squad that you don't want to be!
Anonymous February 10, 2012 at 04:21 AM
I have been cheering for awhile. This cheer seaon was very embarrassing. Yes, she may have had other things going on. The coach talked about us behind our backs, and that's not right. She didn't care about the Varsity. Coach Chav didn't teach us one bit of anything over the season. I would like a coach that will always be there, and will coach us theirselves. My parents, and other parents were embarrassed of this season. People laughed at school about our preformances, also we never had our music.
Tossah Woodruff February 10, 2012 at 05:24 AM
I am the mother of one of the cheerleaders from last year and attended every away game. I do agree that last year was disorganized and sometimes choatic, however I chalked this up to Coach Chavez stepping up to coach this team at the last minute. Without coach Chavez there would not have been a cheer season for our girls, no one else stepped up to the plate and wanted to coach. Where were these other girls last year when the team was practically begging for someone to coach. Last year was difficult but I know I was personally looking forward to what coach chavez could do this year with the proper time and knowledge of this program. As far as other girls stepping up to speak about a coach they need have been coach by, that is not right. You can not get up and say you won't cheer for someone based on the gossip of other girls. Don't judge something until you yourself have experienced it. Coach chavez demands respect and makes the girls follow rules and I honestly believe that that is what some of these girls real issues are. I support coach chavez and am looking forward to what she can do with these girls next year.

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