Editorial: A Petition for the Players


In early 2014, the Manitou Springs High School football program found itself in a rut. With a resignation from its former coach, Danny Gieck, and a momentum to maintain from the previous season, the team was in dire need of a new head coach. The district turned to a coach and athletic director by the name of Monte Gutowski.
Monte started the football program at Palmer Ridge and, by their third year, the team had made it to the 3A playoffs. After his time at Palmer, Gutowski moved to Bethune and worked as their athletic director. In April 2014, The Gazette quoted John McGee saying, “He has a great reputation in the coaching world… We wanted someone in the building, teaching and coaching, and he’s just a quality person. He fit all the pieces that we were looking for, and we feel fortunate to have him as part of our staff. He brings a lot to the table.” Apparently this opinion of the administration has shifted, due to the recent news of Gutowski’s termination.
A large portion of the student body and Manitou community disagree with this action. They are banding together to give Coach G another chance.
In a recent interview with CHSAA, the MSHS athletic director, Mr. McGee, stated, “The school simply felt that a change in direction was needed in the high school football program.” He went on to say that the program’s success is measured in relationship, philosophy, and effectiveness of strategy. The school reasonably strives to excel in all three of these areas which, for them, warranted Gutowski’s dismissal. I hope that providing testimonies to the contrary will alter the opinion of students, faculty, administration and more.
Monte Gutowski bases his team dynamic on family. A lot of his players and students see this quality in him every day. While speaking to Bryce Coop (11), a varsity football player, I found out that he has seen just how important relationships are to Monte. Coop said, “He’s all about family. He’s definitely a family-oriented guy. He really tried bringing this team together a lot better than I’ve seen in other sports that I play or in past years before Gutowski was the head coach.” Coop later mentioned that he had gone through a hard time that year and, rather than going to a counselor or his own parents, he went straight to Gutowski for guidance.
As a player that has had Coach G for two of his three years in high school, it may be easy for Coop to have built up this relationship. Trenton Spraggins (11), whose first season on varsity was this past one, spoke to Gutowski’s strong relationships as well. He said, “I think he tries to connect with anyone, like everyone… I think he really just wants to know and connect with everyone on the team. I think he’s a really good guy.” These boys are just a few student athletes that have seen how important relationships are to this coach. These relationships have come so far and deserve to continue on.
Gutowski’s philosophy has been tailored to each team that he’s coached. His coaching style and philosophy directly correlate with how the teams work and think. Coop mentioned this in an interview by saying, “He was kind of letting us do what gets us pumped up and what gets us ready to play… [His philosophy] makes us have each other’s backs in some tough situations.” Spraggins also spoke to this by saying, “It really makes us come together and put aside all of our differences.” These boys spoke to the head coach’s character and beliefs in a very positive way. In my opinion, these players have been impacted both relationally and philosophically. The players have gained friends and role models and all to the credit of their head football coach.
Strategically, one game stood out to Trenton. “One game where we were losing really bad at Faith Christian, [Gutowski] said that we could just come together as one and actually come back…” Trenton later recalled a visible comeback in the game and a recognizable sense of unity in the team.
I personally see Gutowski’s strategy in his infamous fourth block Team Sports class. I see him looking into my well-being, pushing me to my potential, and encouraging me in all aspects of my life. Gutowski has always wanted the best for his players, even at his own expense. He spends time away from his family and his health class lessons for the football team. I believe that record can’t solely determine the effectiveness of a coach and the ability of a team. It is how they hold their heads, how they shake hands after both wins and losses, and how they recover. The team went from a losing record to a playoff appearance since Gutowski was introduced to the program.
In Gutowski’s past at Palmer, it took him three years to have a varsity team. With such a short time given to him to showcase his ability here at Manitou, how much can we expect? He has spent time, on and off season, building relationships with players through extensive training camps and weight lifting sessions. He needs more time here, and that is what our petition is asking for.
We want to rehire Gutowski. He deserves the payoff for what he has spent two seasons building at Manitou. He has a family he needs to provide for. He has students he needs to focus on. He has no idea how many MSHS students he has impacted. Monte Gutowski has influenced so many of us, and we owe it to him to band together and stand behind him.
If you want to get involved, find Briannah or Mo Heiniger to sign the petition.