UPDATE (10:07 a.m.)—A month after Chesapeake High School varsity wrestling coach Paul Tolle was removed from his position, the coach is seeking closure in the form of a letter emailed to community members.
Tolle, along with Chesapeake athletic director Chip Snyder, were removed from their positions at Chesapeake on Jan. 9 amid an investigation into parent concerns of unsafe student behavior at a December wrestling tournament.
Tolle sent out an email over the weekend in which he tried to explain the events he felt led to his termination as wrestling coach. In the letter, Tolle also thanked those who have supported him throughout the process.
“I am writing this in hopes of accomplishing several goals. First, and foremost, to bring closure to the events that caused my termination and Chip’s suspension,” Tolle wrote. “Secondly, to enlighten all those who have almost blindly supported me, as well as Chip, and our families. Lastly, to assure everyone this was not a one-time incident of any great magnitude.”
Tolle wrote that he felt the motive for his termination came from Chesapeake’s former wrestling coach, who Tolle identified as Rick Couch. Tolle said that he felt as though Couch, along with a small group of people who were unhappy Couch was not reinstated as Chesapeake’s wrestling coach this season, set out to have Tolle fired.
Tolle wrote: “You see, what was hidden from most people was the agenda of a small band of people from the moment that I was hired and former coach, Rick Couch, was not retained. This small group, including Couch, set out for vindication, revenge, and destruction. To the naked eye, they have succeeded. I, on the other hand, refused to ever make this a Rick Couch vs. Paul Tolle issue. Sadly, it has now come to that.”
Reached at his home phone Monday by Patch, Couch declined comment when read Tolle's accusations.
In the letter, Tolle answered some of the burning questions many have had since this investigation began. These questions are centered around the details into the unsafe student behavior that took place at the December tournament.
Tolle wrote that a student brought alcohol to The War on the Shore tournament, but insisted that the student was disciplined and removed from the team after the incident.
Tolle also spoke of a field trip form that he never filled out for the tournament.
“Unofficially, I do know that rumors and allegations arose that Chip failed to have me complete a field trip form of which neither he, nor I, had any knowledge,” Tolle wrote. “I also know that four of the five schools attending the ‘War on the Shore’ knew the same or less, because they never filed this form.”
After the incidents at the War on the Shore tournament, Tolle said on Jan. 9 he received a call from Chesapeake High School principal Frank Drazan, in which he stated, “Practice was cancelled; I was no longer the wrestling coach; and that I needed someone to retrieve any personal property from school because I was not allowed on school property.”
Tolle wrote that after the phone call, he received a letter saying his contract as head wrestling coach had been terminated.
When initial news of the investigation broke, Anne Arundel County schools spokesman Bob Mosier said both coaches were removed, not fired, pending an investigation. Tolle wrote in the letter multiple times that he was terminated. Snyder remains a physical education teacher at the school, but is still removed from the athletic director position.
Reached by phone Tuesday morning, Mosier declined to comment on the letter.
“We’re going to continue to conduct the investigation that we’re conducting and when that investigation is concluded, we’ll arrive at a decision,” Mosier said Tuesday.
Tolle initially asked that his letter be published in its entirety, but due to the sensitivity of the matter, and the students in question, Patch could not run the entire letter. Tolle said parts of the letter could be used in this post.
Tolle insisted the purpose of the letter was to bring closure to the incident, and to shed light on the many unanswered questions.
Tolle concluded his letter saying, “So, as for me, this is a closed chapter. No one will ever take away the positive impact I have had on student-athletes, and more importantly, the impact that they have had on me. They will not destroy my family, my friendships, or my Cougar Pride.
“I beg of everyone who reads this, please do me two favors. Support Chip until he is vindicated and placed back into CHS as teacher, coach, and Athletic Director. Secondly, enact no revenge; harbor no anger; and if it is your belief, as it is mine, drop to your knees and pray for both the CHS sports program and those who have attempted to destroy it.”
Tolle wrote that Chip Snyder had nothing to do with the contents of the letter and was not consulted during the writing process.