Porter out

Brimfield baseball coach fired

For The Weekly Post

BRIMFIELD – Nobody in authority has said much publicly about Brandon Porter’s job status as Brimfield-Elmwood high school baseball coach.

But the looks on the faces of his players and the tears in their eyes might have said it all.
During a special meeting May 24, the Brimfield School Board approved extracurricular coaching assignments for the 2023-24 academic year. All four high school baseball jobs, including varsity coach, were listed as “TBA.” Also listed that way were two junior-high positions; Porter has been head coach there, too.

From all indications, Porter no longer will fill the top jobs. No reason was given for his apparent dismissal. Job openings for high school head coach and junior-varsity coach and grade-school head coach and assistant coach have been posted on the school-district website.

In 10 seasons as the coach of the Brimfield-Elmwood high school baseball co-op, Porter had a 232-86-1 record, with five Class 2A regional championships and three sectional titles.

Porter’s teams had one losing record (14-15 in 2016) and won at least 20 games eight times.
In a 2023 season that ended May 20 in a regional-final loss to Macomb, the Indians were 22-10-1. The previous season, they were 31-3 and a supersectional qualifier.

When asked after the meeting why the high school head-coaching position was open, Board President Steve Updyke said he could not comment about personnel issues. He also said more information probably would be forthcoming at the regular board meeting June 21.

“That’s kind of where we are right now,” Updyke said. “We approved coaches for the whole year. I wanted Brandon to have the opportunity to talk to the team. We’re giving him that opportunity to talk to the team and not come from us as a board. He needs to have a conversation.”

That conversation appeared to take place in the high school gymnasium shortly after the board voted. Porter, about 20 of his players, his assistants and most of the other 40 or so who attended the board meeting gathered there.

Porter addressed the players. They hugged each other and sobbed. Faces among children and adults were glum.

Afterward, Porter told The Weekly Post he had no comment. Before that, the board met for about 90 minutes in closed session, which included Porter. That followed open-session testimonials for Porter from five of his players and 15 others. No opposing voices arose.

“He is one of the most inspiring and supporting men to cross my path,” Brimfield-Elmwood player Landon Binder said. “He has not only helped me grow as a baseball player but also grow as the best young man I can be.

“I can’t believe we are all gathered to talk about this today.”

Adults who addressed the board didn’t appear to believe it, either. Among those who spoke were Tucker Blum and Austin Sims, both Porter assistants whose jobs also are open.

Some of the speakers acknowledged Porter might not be the easiest coach for whom to play, but they didn’t doubt his commitment.

“He puts his heart and soul into these baseball programs and this town,” player parent Regina Crowe said.

Among the most impassioned of Porter’s supporters was Scott Carlson, longtime Brimfield boys basketball coach. Carlson said he was the subject of public disenchantment early in his Brimfield career. That led to a meeting regarding his fate.

“Half the bleachers were people supporting me and half the bleachers, people wanted me out of there,” said Carlson, whose 2014-15 team won the Class 1A state championship. “Everybody here wants (Porter) to stay. There’s nobody here saying, ‘Get him out of here.’ Give him a chance.”

At least one parent accused the newly elected board of harboring a vendetta against Porter. Kelly Bizosky said it’s rooted in players being cut from a grade-school team Porter once coached.

“This has been in the works for years,” Bizosky said. “Nothing has been done because they didn’t have the board members. Now they have the board members. You don’t have a smoking gun. You are literally crapping in your own back yard to fire a coach who has done nothing wrong.”

Acrimony flared again following the board vote, which was made in public. In reporting it, Updyke did not mention Porter’s status – only that coaching assignments for 2023-24 were approved. When some audience members questioned Updyke regarding Porter, the discourse briefly devolved into shouting.

The board also approved grade-school coaching assignments and hired Griffith Inskeep as a fifth-grade teacher.