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Donaldson will continue coaching at CHS
Donnie Donaldson, along with 75 supporters, attended the public comment portion of June 11th's Ceres School Board meeting to protest his demotion as head coach of Ceres High School's varsity softball program.

"I take full responsibility for the mistakes that I made," Donaldson said. "I do hope they take the advice of everybody who was here tonight. It's devastating what they did to me. I hope they make it right."

"I have reviewed the manner and it's not appropriate for me to over ride the position taken by the principal and athletic director because the behavior he demonstrated was not appropriate" Ceres Unified Superintendent Walt Hanline said. "People may dispute that."

Donaldson met with Hanline, Deputy Superintendent Scott Siegel and Board Trustee Jim Kinard on July 6 seeking alternative disciplinary action.

The content of the final resolution, which called for Donaldson's re-instatement, was devised by former Ceres High principal Bob Palous.

Donnie agreed to the following stipulations:

•to serve a six-game suspension during the 2010 season

•to be put on two years probation

•to forfeit 20 percent of his coaching stipend ($800)

•to a three-year commitment to Ceres High softball

"Now, I can look forward to next year," said Donaldson, who signed a new contract on Monday, July 13. "It would have been tough to watch from outside the fence and not be involved."

"I feel real good with what we came up with," Hanline said.

Donaldson was punished for committing rules violations during the 2009 season.

He broke a CIF rule by holding a non-mandatory hitting practice on a Sunday.

Ceres High reported the infraction to the Valley Oak League, received a written reprimand and its varsity softball program was put on probation for a year. The Bulldogs also had a Monday practice taken away.

"I would never jeopardize a season," Donaldson said. "I didn't know the rule had changed in 2000. I take full responsibility. I messed up."

Donaldson also used Ceres High School's softball field for his Tri County Smash travel club and allowed the JV head coach to miss a game without approval.

"It's a matter of liability to the district," Hanline said.

"I'll never do that again either," Donaldson said.

Unable to accept a demotion to JV head coach, Donaldson pleaded his case to the Ceres School Board last month.

"It's not possible because of the situation I'm in," Donnie said. "I would miss all of her (daughter Kaycee Creek's) games if I moved down."

Creek, Ceres High's ace pitcher, read a prepared statement on behalf of her team.

Mother Rebecca Donaldson, former Ceres High athletic director Phil de la Porte, Ceres council member Bret Durossette, ex-Bulldog pitcher Kristen Ghimenti and Smash 10-and-under coach Mary Hackbarth all expressed their support of Donnie.

"It's not just a job for him," Kaycee said. "It's a way of life."

Kristen played for Donaldson during her junior and senior years. The 2007 Ceres High graduate earned a scholarship to Bethany University. She's also helped coach with the Smash.

"I feel it would be a shame and a real loss to terminate him," Ghimenti said. "It was an honor to play for him. I just hope people in the future will have the same opportunity I did."

Ceres High's varsity softball team has posted a combined record of 53-29-2 the past three seasons under Donaldson's guidance. The Bulldogs also extended their string of consecutive playoff appearances in 2009 to 24 seasons by winning 11 of 14 Valley Oak League game.

When asked how his players reacted when learning of his re-instatement, Donaldson said: "High fives. Hugs. Congratulations. They were excited."