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Salmon hoops resumes season, selects Walters and Williams as coaches

By LAURA ZUCKERMAN | Post Register | news@postregister.com
SALMON — Two women have stepped forward as coaches for the Salmon High School varsity and junior varsity girls basketball squads to ensure the teams complete their schedules despite the resignations Thursday of their coaches after the varsity coach’s vehicle was vandalized.

Daniela Wolters and Camille Williams will coach varsity and junior varsity respectively in a decision finalized Monday. The announcement brought relief for players whose seasons were briefly suspended as school officials sought to find replacement coaches.

News that the teams would now go on to participate in two more weeks of regular-season play as well as district tournaments “brought a lot of smiles” when the school’s athletic director, Jeremy Burgess, floated the proposal to several players over the weekend, he said.

“We are really fortunate to have them,” Burgess said of Wolters and Williams, adding that both women have experience coaching and knowledge of the game.

Varsity coach Richard Barany abruptly resigned Thursday, one day after his vehicle was found with tires slashed and at least one headlight destroyed while parked outside Salmon High as the coach and team traveled for a game at West Jefferson. Junior varsity coach Sarah Foster also resigned Thursday amid worries about threats to personal safety.

The resignations and attack on Barany’s vehicle distressed players, parents and the community. News of the incident spurred an outpouring of support led by Salmon High wrestling coach Jason Bruce. Bruce pledged $500 from the “men of steel” wrestling team for information leading to the conviction of the person or people responsible for severely damaging Barany’s vehicle.

“This is heartbreaking as a coach and a member of this community … this is unacceptable,” Bruce wrote on social media.

Other Salmon residents almost immediately posted responses, denouncing the attack on Barany and the hardships imposed on the girls basketball teams. A number of people and local businesses also offered money, either adding to the reward fund or to help pay for repairs to the coach’s car.

Becky Coffey, co-owner of Salmon Qwik Lube, is among those seeking to rectify what she described as “a great wrong.” The company is adding another $100 to the reward fund in hopes it will prompt someone with information about the culprit or culprits to come forward.

Coffey said she has seen firsthand the dedication of players and the importance of creating and maintaining an atmosphere of respect for those who take on the arduous task of coaching youth.

“I know how hurtful it would be for my son if his coach got attacked,” she said. “That’s such a horrible thing to happen in our town and totally uncalled for.”

Burgess said the top priority for him and for school officials was to see the teams finish out the season. He added that the positive gestures and sentiments expressed by the broader community have been heartening.

“It definitely increases your faith in decent humanity,” he said.

Hailee Davis, a senior who plays forward and is one of three captains on the varsity team, said she is happy the season will go on, despite setbacks. Those include a sprained ankle she suffered during the game with West Jefferson, an injury that will sideline her for at a week.

“I’m excited, even though I won’t be participating for the moment,” she said. “And I think this experience will end up bringing us closer as a team.”

The team is set to play Challis on Tuesday. A game scheduled Friday at Ririe was forfeited Thursday, with that loss dropping Salmon’s record to 2-14.

Salmon police did not immediately respond on Monday to request for comment on an investigation tied to the vandalism.

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