Feature, November 9, 2006
Long live Annie Zaleski! I have only read the online version of "Long Live Rock School" and can't wait to get the paper copy, but I want to commend Annie Zaleski on her great article. I am Claire Holohan's, mom and she absolutely captured the essence of the school and the truly wonderful qualities of Dave Simon.
The article is just great, and demonstrates Annie's depth of understanding. Thanks for taking the time and care.
Faith Sandler, St. Louis
Feature, November 2, 2006
Bad sport: Good article on something we always suspected of happening. Having a son who played against Floyd Irons' team in 2005 and losing just adds to the disappointment of not advancing.
An interesting point no one has mentioned: Irons would not shake the opposing team players' hands after a game, for whatever reason. Although I don't believe anyone would have beaten Poplar Bluff that year, it would have been fun advancing to the next level. I was very happy when they beat Vashon, and especially happy in how they did it.
Mike Beryman, St. Charles
At least he got his clock cleaned: Kristen Hinman did a great job reporting "Basketball by the Book." I loved the article.
Having been a basketball player myself and an avid fan, I have seen Irons coach. We saw his team play in Columbia at the state championships against Poplar Bluff. He was confident of winning and ordered boxes of state champs shirts. Poplar Bluff cleaned Vashon's clocks. Irons was so rude and unsportsmanlike. He pulled his players off the court with minutes left on the clock and did not shake the winning coach's hand. Gee, that is really showing class.
Good job on [exposing] a phony-baloney snake in the grass.
Pamela Kennedy, St. Louis
Why pick on Vashon? Why now, may I ask? The witch hunt continues. I have never played basketball for Floyd Irons or attended Vashon, but I have many friends and acquaintances that who done the latter, and I have followed his career as a coach and mentor. It amazes me that people still have it out for Mr. Irons and the Vashon basketball program. We all know that there may be some violations within the program, but I'd be willing to bet that these are violations that almost every school with powerful sports programs violates in some form, such as Rich Grawer and Clayton High.
The Wolverines have not been ordered by the Missouri State High School Activities Association to forfeit a single game. Is this their fault? What's going on with MSHSAA?
Why are we still picking on Vashon? Every local sports fan knows Vashon has built a dynasty. Vashon has been and still is the best sports team in St. Louis, not the Blues, Rams or Cardinals (though I congratulate them on the World Series). Now that it seems that Mr. Irons may be gone as a coach, schools like DeSmet, Vianney and Hazelwood Central just may have a chance to win a state title.
Marvin Crummer, St. Louis
Integrity is the name of the game: So where do we go from here? Thanks for Kristen Hinman's research and hard work, but it won't generate any change in the culture of Vashon unless the program is penalized seriously, like forfeiture of the state championships, fines and a year's suspension from MSHSAA. From what you have found to be true, that's the least that should happen.
Let me comment on just a few more things concerning Coach Irons. I was on the board of MSHSAA for three years and represented the St. Louis area. When I shared some of the stories I heard from other coaches and administrators, I was told by MSHSAA that we didn't have an investigative body, like the NCAA does, to monitor where players lived. Now, after I've retired, it appears they do have a committee. Unfortunately, as you reported, these infractions have been going on for at least eight years.
Putting Irons and Demetrious Johnson in the same sentence also sends a strong message. Both do more to hurt race relations in St. Louis by their talk and actions than any I know.
On the issue of recruiting, Irons didn't have to personally recruit any player. The program's success did that for him. And the comment from the mother "Look, sometimes as a parent you got to do what you got to do for your kids" that sets a great example for them. Next the kids will think it is all right to cheat on income taxes and do other dishonest things they somehow think they are "entitled to."
Think of the injustice to every other student athlete that has to compete with a program like Vashon's. Is it fair for them to lose to a team year in and year out that uses ineligible players and suffers no consequences? Please do whatever it takes to clean up the mess Irons has created and give future Vashon players something to be proud of: integrity.
L. Kreyling, Johns Island, South Carolina
At long last someone who "gets it"! I laughed as hard as anyone else when I read your cover story about Vashon cheating at basketball. You guys are really getting good at these spoofs, and I'm getting better at appreciating them. Your impersonation of Floyd Irons you know, the made-up quotes sounded exactly like him, just the way Mike Shannon did in your satire a couple of weeks ago.
I admit it took a while for me to catch on last time. (A flashy downtown arts district? Frank Gehry? Of course it can't happen here. Dawn breaks slowly over Marblehead!) Satire works so much better when you are invited to take it seriously and the subject means something to you. Some people around here might hold high school sports in such high regard that they would not see the wickedly brilliant humor in your fake exposé, but not me.
Bravo and well done. Keep those barbed yuks up. Pretty soon you'll have the number-one satire magazine in the whole city.
James Dolan, St. Louis