North Whidbey Park and Recreation District’s new director, Bill Walker, has made a grievous error in the summary termination of Coach Neil Romney.
He has demonstrated in his short five-month reign that his Napoleanic management style has prioritized his ego over the interests of the community. A good director must be able to recognize the assets he/she has on hand and manage them responsibly for the benefit of the organization. In this case, he has clearly thrown out the baby with the bath water.
I and my family have known Neil since he was first recruited to our island community. It is rare to find someone with his unassailable commitment to personal integrity and responsibility, not to mention his unparalleled knowledge of exercise physiology and training techniques.
Coach Neil has also instilled a system of values and beliefs in his trainees that extends to other areas of life critical to the success of young people. These include the importance of personal integrity, responsibility, identification of goals and building skill sets necessary to achieve those goals. Our three children were all valedictorians, in some part, because of these values and skills that they learned from Neil.
Bill Walker’s summary termination of Coach Neil Romney has caused tremendous harm to the members of North Whidbey Aquatic Club, especially to those young athletes who were on track to compete at a national level. It will be impossible to attract a coach of his abilities, skills and proven commitment to this community. If he is not immediately offered his position back, he will be quickly snapped up by another club or college.
While we believe Walker is a man of integrity, we seriously question his judgement and management style. Many suspect this was a matter of establishing who the alpha dog is, but the minor accounting irregularities were just an excuse to “legally” terminate his employment. This should have been handled with a greater sensitivity. The accounting issues could have easily been sorted out with an audit. This is not reality TV, so we don’t need Donald Trump-style management. Rehire Coach Neil Romney before it is too late.
Dr. Benjamin Hu and Janet Tipping