West Covina High School baseball coach Ricardo Soriano finally landed his dream job coaching his alma mater, but after just two games in his first season as coach, he was fired Thursday and was given an explanation that it had to do with parent complaints.
Soriano, a walk-on coach, graduated at West Covina in 2001, which was the last Bulldogs’ team to win a league title.
Soriano said he was given vague reasons for his removal.
“If I knew the exact reasons why I was (fired), I would tell you,” Soriano said.
Soriano was hired at West Covina after the departure of Kevin Smith, who is now at Covina High School.
Soriano previously served as an assistant coach at Walnut High the past two years and won a championship with the Mustangs last season. Prior to joining Walnut, he was an assistant coach at West Covina under Coach Drew Lorenger until he retired in 2015.
Soriano said prior to Thursday’s game against Colony he was called in to speak with athletic director Brian Barnes and principal Dr. Stephen Glass and told he was being terminated.
West Covina was in its first week of the season and lost its first two games to Maranatha 2-1 and Bonita 3-0.
“They (Glass and Barnes) informed me because of some parent complaints that they had to move forward without me,” Soriano said. “They didn’t say what the complaints were honestly. They (administration) never approached me before this about parent complaints. No players ever approached me about parent complaints and no parents approached me complaining about anything.
“If there were some parents that said something about me to the administration, I don’t know what that was. I have nothing to hide and have done nothing wrong to the boys or the program.”
Principal Glass did not return emails or phone calls seeking comment, but Barnes returned an email explaining, “We are not able to comment on the situation. At this point it is a district personnel issue.”
West Covina Unified School District Superintendent Charles D. Hinman also said he could not comment.
“It’s a personnel issue, it’s not something we comment on,” Hinman said. “Sometimes that works to our disadvantage in situations like this, but we’re not going to discuss it.”
Soriano said two issues came up long before the season started, but he believes both had nothing to do with why he was removed.
Soriano said there was a question about financial records over team fundraising during the fall. Soriano said Barnes conducted an investigation, spoke with all parties, including parents that were part of the fundraising, and that all the funds were accounted for.
“It was resolved, all the funds were accounted for and we moved on,” Soriano said.
Soriano said another issue came up in January over group text messages to parents.
“It was over how the messages were being sent out and the tone of the messages,” Soriano said. “I spoke to Brian Barnes, Dr. Glass and assistant principal Lisa Maggiore. It wasn’t what I said, but how I said it, and we spoke about it and moved forward. But once again, it was something taken care of in January.”
Soriano said he is speaking his mind and being as transparent as he can because he believes in his character and his ability to coach and was disappointed he was let go so quickly.
“Look, I love coaching and I’m an alum here who loves this school and was excited about this opportunity,” Soriano said. “I had conversations in previous years about coaching here, but turned it down because of the type of teams we had at Walnut.
“This is tough because I know I can coach and I know I didn’t do anyone wrong. I don’t know what the parent complaints were, but it’s unfortunate because I wanted to be here and I think most parents and players enjoyed having me here.”