Title-winning coach fired at Sasakwa after moveBy BOB FORREST Sports Writer
SASAKWA — When coach Doug Isaacs and the Sasakwa Lady Vikings beat top-ranked Red Oak in the Class B fast-pitch state title game last October to claim their school’s first-ever girls state championship in any sport, they became instant favorites to repeat this fall. So far, though, nothing has gone as planned for the defending champs.
Before the season began, junior catcher Nikki Nail — whose sister, Jacklyn, was the only senior starter on the 2008 squad — moved back to Konawa, where she began her varsity career in 2007. Despite the loss of one of the state’s best young players, Sasakwa — playing one of Oklahoma’s toughest schedules in any class — remained in the top five in the Class B rankings this fall.
And the Lady Vikings have managed to keep their heads above water in the eight days since Doug Isaacs and daughters Elda and Erin became the central figures in an incident that ranks near the top of the bizarre-meter for even the most veteran area observers.
Last Monday, just two days after his club dropped a 1-0 decision to Class B No. 1 Moss in the finals of the Lady Pirates’ tournament, Isaacs notified Sasakwa superintendent Jim Mathews that he and his family were moving to Moss. Despite a warning from Mathews that such a strange move in the middle of the season would have repercussions, Isaacs relocated his family and was summarily fired as Sasakwa’s head softball and basketball coach.
“They all moved to Moss — not just Elda but the whole family — over the Labor Day weekend,” Mathews said. “(Doug Isaacs) is still teaching here, but he has been relieved of his coaching duties.
“I’ve been at this 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything like that,” he added. “He called me Sunday night and said his older daughter (Elda, a junior who was the team’s No. 2 pitcher and one of its leading hitters) wasn’t happy at Sasakwa, and he was moving his whole family to Moss. I told him I didn’t think he should do it, but he did it anyway. There was no real explanation, and we had lead time of ZERO.”
Mathews said the move by Isaacs left him no choice but to make a move of his own.
“When a coach moves his kids away from school during the season, that’s going to happen,” he said of Isaacs’ firing. “Especially when they move to a school in the same class. This only leaves us with 10 kids, so it makes it tough, but we’re moving along.”
In their first six games after Isaacs left, the Lady Vikings — coached by assistants Jason Brauning and Ashton Livesay under Mathews’ supervision — finished 2-2 at the OU Festival last week (beating Deer Creek from Class 5A and Stillwater from 6A and losing to 4A No. 4 Little Axe and 6A No. 18 Putnam City North) and 1-1 at their own festival Tuesday, losing 3-0 to Class B No. 10 Tupelo and beating Lexington to move to 18-13 this season.
“We took on the hardest schedule we could think of this fall,” Mathews said. “We’ve played a lot of 4A, 5A and 6A teams, in addition to Moss, Red Oak and Tupelo in our class.”
And, while losing Doug Isaacs at this point in the school year presents problems for the Sasakwasoftball team, it will bring up an even bigger issue when softball ends and basketball begins.
“That’s when the problem is going to arise,” Mathews said. “(Isaacs) is still teaching here, so the only money available (to pay the new basketball coach) will be coaching fees. (The new coach) will have to be somebody who is retired and wants to do it or somebody from within (the Sasakwa system), but I don’t think that will happen.”
With the Nail sisters leading the way, Sasakwa reached its first-ever girls basketball state tournament last spring, and with three returning starters (Wynter Wind and sisters C. J. and Cerissa Palmer) still on the roster, the Lady Vikings figure to open the 2009-2010 season in the Class B Top 20.