Longtime Maple Grove football, basketball and softball coach Curt Fischer has announced that he has stepped down from his coaching positions at the school effective immediately.
Fischer sent an email to the Buffalo News on Friday in making the announcement.
The letter stated:
They say with every ending there is a new beginning and after 25 years it is time for a change. It is with a heavy heart that I announce the end of my coaching career at Maple Grove High School. Over the past 25 years a lot has changed but my love for the students and community that backed me will not. State titles and awards have never been the reason for my love of coaching. The ability to watch students develop from the little brother or sister watching on the sideline to student athlete and achieve success in their lives is an honor that will remain with me for life. Accepting blame and ridicule is part of coaching and something I took in stride for many years but now that my children are part of the process it is time for me to become a father and not a coach. I wish my successors much success in continuing the winning tradition on and off the field. I wish the school administration the best and thank them for the last 25 years. The future success of the football and basketball programs will take support and backing of the administration as well as our student athlete family’s so I hope changes can be made. I want to express my deepest thanks to all that have become a positive part of my life. I will hold onto those memories to drive my coaching enthusiasm into the future.
When contacted by the News, Fischer shed a little more light as to why he stepped down, noting that personal attacks on his children, Zach and Megan, led to the decision. An emotional Curt Fischer also said he wasn't a favorite of the parents.
"The parents don't care for me here so I don't know what else to say," he said Friday. "I guess I'm intimidating to the players. ... It wasn't a good thing.
"It's been a year-long thing. … It's coming to the head because it's hurting my children."
That's as much as an emotional Fischer revealed about the circumstances that led to his resignation.
Fischer is poised to be inducted into the Chautauqua County Athletic Hall of Fame next month. Fischer has Hall of Fame credentials as a coach of all seasons.
Fischer guided Maple Grove's football program to nine Section VI championships, two state championships (1998 and 2008) in four title-game appearances. He amassed a 221-45 record.
"Curt, he's put in a long time," Section VI Football Chairman Ken Stoldt said. "His success speaks for himself what he's accomplished down at Maple Grove. … He's come up with some signature wins the last 10-15 years. … He's going to go down as one of our most successful (coaches). It's a loss for Section VI."
Fischer did perhaps some of his best work on the sideline the past three seasons in guiding the program to Section VI championships.
Three years ago, the Red Dragons -- in the final year of their brief merger with Chautauqua Lake -- stunned heavily-favored Bennett in the Class C sectional final in overtime before losing a close one on the road in Far West Regionals.
Two years ago, Maple Grove, as a solo outfit once again, came within a 22-21 double overtime loss in the state Class D final to Cambridge of completing a perfect 13-0 season. Fischer earned Buffalo News Coach of the Year honors. Last season, a reloading Red Dragons team that lost to a Western New York opponent for the first time in four years avenged that defeat by rallying to beat Franklinville/Ellicottville in the sectional final.
The Dragons followed that by taking down the state's top-ranked team (Clyde-Savannah) as part of Section VI's first-ever sweep of the five Section V champions during Far West Regionals. The Red Dragons then rallied to beat Section IV champion Tioga in its own backyard in suburban Binghamton to reach the state final again.
Fischer also guided the boys basketball program to state titles in 2008 and 2010 and four Section VI championships in 14 seasons.
In nine seasons as softball coach, he led the Red Dragons to one Section VI title. In four years as baseball coach, he guided Maple Grove to a state title (in 1992).
Fischer, whose full-time job is with Cummins, a Fortune 500 company that makes diesel engines, thanked his employer of 33 years for being flexible to work around his coaching schedule.
"They've given me a lot of breaks to coach," Fischer said. "I just feel bad for my children. When it got to the point where it was hurting my family I couldn't do this anymore."
Maple Grove Athletic Director Kathy Burnett referred all questions regarding Fischer's decision to leave to district superintendent Michael Mansfield.
Mansfield and board president John Novotny issued the following joint statement Friday afternoon:
"Curt Fischer asked for and was granted an unpaid leave of absence from his position of varsity boys basketball coach. The leave was approved at our Jan. 8 Board of Education meeting. Mr. Fischer has since informed the District that he is resigning his position of varsity boys’ basketball coach. Regarding Mr. Fischer’s status as football coach. As per the collectively negotiated agreement with our faculty association, all athletic coaching positions are posted annually and the District appoints all athletic coaches on an annual basis. Coaching positions for the fall season, including varsity football, are posted in May and generally appointed at the June Board of Education meeting. As such, no decision has been made regarding the varsity football coaching position. However, it is our understanding that Mr. Fischer intends to step away from coaching to spend more time with his family. The Bemus Point Central School District deeply appreciates Mr. Fischer’s commitment to our student athletes throughout his career and wish him well in the future."
Mansfield said the district is working on finding a permanent appointment to complete the season as the Red Dragons' basketball coach. Right now, junior varsity coach Jordan Gould has been running practices. Maple Grove is idle until Thursday, when it hosts Chautauqua Lake.
Regarding Fischer's reasons for stepping down, including personal attacks on his children: "That's not part of this issue from the district's perspective (personal attacks)," Mansfield. "Just like our statement said, coach feels its best to step away."
Mansfield also said Fischer informed the district last fall he wasn't returning to coach softball. Rebecca Zimmerman was appointed to coach that sport during a fall board meeting.