Letter: Don’t blame parents for Wilton's soccer woes

To the Editors:

Does anyone know who Wilton High School’s soccer field is named after? Oh, right, Kristine Lilly. One of the best female soccer players in history played soccer for our high school, but who would ever believe that given the current state of the program?

I played on the WHS girls varsity soccer team for four years, serving as co-captain during my senior year. During that time, I endured four coaches and two athletic directors. I honestly believed I’d experienced the worst the program had to offer (e.g., one coach was suspended for suspected sexual relations with a player, only to be reinstated and subsequently fired for physically assaulting another player, and a second coach had us play leapfrog with 9-year-old girls the day before an FCIAC tournament game). Yet, when I left in 2014 to play Division I soccer at Dartmouth College, I thought the program was finally headed in a positive direction with a highly qualified coach in John Salvatore. Under his guidance, we made it to the FCIAC finals for the first time in many years, and John was named MSG Varsity Coach of the Year. I also thought I’d outlasted an athletic director who was past his expiration date while I was still in Miller-Driscoll, but things only got worse under WHS’s newest athletic director.

Officially, Salvatore resigned to “spend more time with his family.”  Unofficially, rumor had it the new AD forced him out because he felt Salvatore’s soccer club was somehow a conflict of interest with the WHS program. Regardless, there’s no disputing the fact the AD completely bungled the hiring process for a new coach by passing over the team’s highly qualified assistant coach, who was universally well liked and respected by the players.

Despite two successful, drama-free seasons, the AD hired yet another coach who, once again, created strife within the program. And now that coach is gone, too! Five coaches in six years, yet incredibly, people are pointing the fingers at the parents! No! The blame falls squarely on the AD.  For too many years the parents have witnessed abusive, incompetent, and unqualified coaches and athletic directors. They’ve also witnessed the blatant favoritism the AD shows to the football team. I was appalled when he skipped a crucial game of ours against Ridgefield to attend a football scrimmage, and disgusted when he walked right past my fellow co-captain, who was on crutches shortly after tearing her ACL, without even acknowledging her or her injury.

Enough is enough. I say to the parents: Keep complaining and demanding the best for your daughters. Don’t be satisfied with the incompetence of the few individuals in charge, and don’t allow a once legendary program to continue down this shameful path.

Lastly, I have a message for the AD: Do your job. Your first priority should be to all of WHS’s student athletes, not just those who play football. Every sport at Wilton High School is equally deserving of your attention, so treat them as such.
Lindsay Knutson
Wilton, March 28