Godsey out as Manta Rays coach

Tuesday, August 1, 2006
Some Manta Rays expressed their feelings about the dismissal of Lori Godsey as the swim team's coach with a sign hung Monday on the Marshall Aquatics Center's fence.

"I feel at this point I've been used," remarked Lori Godsey about her dismissal as coach of the Salt Fork YMCA Swim Club. "It's like, 'Let's let her hang on until we just get rid of her."

Godsey's position, which she has held the last 12 years, had been in jeopardy since she resigned as the Y's aquatics director in early 2004. Now working in the same capacity for the Marshall Parks and Recreation Department, Godsey was told last week by YMCA Executive Director Jack Harvey that the coach's job was being turned over to Marshall native Jillian Pointer -- a former Manta Ray swimmer hired by the Y in June.

"We have a budget for aquatics and we're trying to stay within that," Harvey explained. "We're not a large YMCA. We're no different from other Y's: their aquatics director is also their swim coach."

Godsey is mindful of the fiscal situation, but a week later was "still hurt and upset because of the dedication I've given -- not only to the swim team, but the YMCA." However, she has realized for the past two years that this move was possible.

"I kind of knew it at the time" Godsey left the YMCA's full-time payroll, she admitted, "but it was kind of 'iffy' since then. It's kind of been an up and down thing."

Godsey's immediate successor at the Y was Angela Kennedy, who only held the job for 11 months and wasn't deemed ready for the task of coaching the Manta Rays. The position was open for four months before Pointer, a 1998 Marshall High grad, was hired. Throughout this two-year period, Godsey has filled the void.

"I can see why Lori could be hurt by this," especially since she "stayed on to maintain the integrity of the program," Harvey conceded. "I'm taking this action for the administration of the YMCA.

"I have to do it," he added. "We have a budget for aquatics and we're trying to stay within that."

Harvey denied that the current lower-than-average numbers of swim team members was significantly influenced the decision.

"We're on a downhill slide, but that happens -- regardless of leadership," he said, demonstrating the cyclical nature of participation with a waving gesture. "Part of it is economics."

Godsey contends that a survey sent out to Y members, 17 of 77 responding, rated her and two assistants on their performance. She doesn't know what effect that had, but doesn't believe that canvassing with such a low rate of input should be considered.

"If I wasn't doing the job, I should have been told," Godsey said. "We have swimmers that are so much better quality" than when she took over the program. "I just don't want them to be lost."

Neither does Harvey, which is why he is hoping that once the disappointment fades away, Godsey -- who has three daughters active in competitive swimming -- will help Pointer as she begins her coaching career.

"I could still see Lori, if she wants to, be an asset to the swim team," Harvey declared. "There's a ton of knowledge there."

An organizational meeting for the team is set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Y.

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