All appears quiet on Stowe High School's athletic fields, but a controversy has simmered this summer over the firing of coach Bev Osterberg, better known to her field hockey players as Miss O.
We first met Osterberg last fall when, after 44 years of service, the town dedicated a playing field in her honor.
"I just take one year at a time, one game at a time and try and do the best I can," she told WCAX then. "I love the game and I love to coach."
But a lot has changed in a year.
"I believe that most of the community was definitely blindsided by this, for sure," said Melanie Lemnah, who went to Stowe High School.
After another winning season in which her team made the championships, school officials gave her a poor evaluation and did not renew her contract. That's when Lemnah, a former player, got into the game.
"She's touched my life and so many other players' lives, and I just felt like the treatment she received and how it went about and how she was fired was not the way to do it," Lemnah said.
She started a Facebook page in support of Miss O. Last month she presented a petition to the school board with 275 names of former players and supporters asking to reinstate Miss O.
Coach Osterberg was part time. Her employment was at the will of the Stowe principal, not the school board. The principal referred our questions to the superintendent, who was also reluctant to comment, other than to say that a new coach has been hired.
Lemnah admits that Miss O could at times be old school and a curmudgeon, keeping some players on the bench.
"I think that she just has her own style and I think a lot of kids this day and age-- they are used to getting their own way," Lemnah said.
But with the regimentation also came love and caring.
"Holidays, birthdays; she was just always there to support you," Lemnah said. "We didn't appreciate her as much as we should have when we were in high school, but I think a lot of us appreciate her more once we left and went on to college and to careers and families-- realized how much of an important part she was of our lives."
Students will return to these fields in the coming weeks.
"They'll go on and play field hockey and do their drills and all that, but they're definitely going to miss something," Lemnah said. "I hope that she knows how appreciated she really was in all of her years of service."
Lemnah and other Miss O supporters hope to organize a party or banquet in the coming weeks.
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