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Coral Reef coach fired

Clements axed with one game left

Akilah Laster | 11/14/2013, 9 a.m.
Head Coach Chevas Clements discusses play with Pierre. Miami Times photos/Akilah Laster

Coral Reef ended another season just shy of the playoffs and this time with a heavier heart after the controversial termination of their head coach Chevas Clements before the team played its final game.

According to Clements, he walked into the school on November 4th to see his office door and the players’ locker room padlocked.

When Clements went to inquire about the locks, the principal, Adriane Leal, and another administrator told him “they were going in a different direction.”

Leal, who did not respond to interview requests, apparently gave no explanation as to why Clements was being let go and why in that manner.

Clements, who said he was blindsided is still looking for answers.

“I didn't expect it and I didn't expect it in that way,” Clements said. “There is no explanation.”

Clements who is still a physical education teacher at Reef returned to the school last Tuesday after being asked to take a few days off so the news wouldn't be a disturbance. According to Clements students and players watched as he cleared his office last Monday morning after he met with the principal.

“There was a lot of tears and crying,” Clements said. “A very emotional first day.”

After four consecutive winning seasons, Clements’ removal from the position, a supplement for Miami-Dade County Public School employees, sparked a lot of student outcries on social media calling the situation “unfair.”

“I had a lot of support in the community,” Clements said. “[People] don’t understand the relationship that all coaches have with their players. It’s not just on the football field, it’s twenty-four-seven.”

An anonymous parent said that players and parents were very upset by the news. However, the Barracudas dedicated their last game to Clements with a 52-16 victory against Hialeah and gave Clements a signed team photo. The final game was coached by Clements’s first year assistant coach and former Northwestern and Killian head coach Billy Rolle.

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Head Coach Chevas Clements addresses his team after a game.

Prior to Clements arrival, the Cudas had not won a district game in at least four seasons and were coming off a one-win season. In Clements first season, the Cudas won their first district game and their four wins from 2008 were more than the ‘06 and ’07 seasons combined.

Athletic Director Deb Margolis was contacted, but declined to comment on the situation and said she had no information. Other coaches were surprised by Clements firing, crediting him for turning the Reef program around. Clements was 34-28 in his six seasons at Reef, including a 9-3 season where the Barracudas reached the regional semifinals.

“Coach Clements did a great job,” said a head coach who wanted to remain anonymous. “He made the program relevant. I thought it was handled very unprofessionally because no one should have to come to work and feel violated.”

Clements who said that he had a great working relationship with Leal throughout his tenure said he felt betrayed, especially after he was not allowed to address his players after the news.

“I don’t think I deserved to be let go,” Clements said. “I definitely don’t deserve to be treated in that manner.”

But Clements said that he enjoyed his time and appreciates the administration for their assistance throughout his tenure.

“I appreciate that [they] hired me and gave me the opportunity,” Clements said. “Over the years they’ve been great and have been really supportive.”