By Blake Colston
OKARCHE – Okarche assistant girls’ basketball coach Kaylene Ullom’s status with the team is unclear after a team Bible study she hosted turned controversial.
Ullom reportedly expressed disapproval with the boys the female players chose to date and the kind of religion they practiced, sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said.
A group of unhappy parents brought their complaints to the school board and Okarche Superintendent Rob Friesen at the end of May. Ullom’s name was listed on the June school board agenda under consideration for action on personnel matters.
“At this time, she will not be coaching basketball next season,” Friesen said when reached by telephone this week. “You can say it was my decision.”
Later, however, Friesen backtracked. He told the Warrior that a final decision on Ullom’s status had not been made and the board of education would meet to address the situation as soon as possible.
Ullom, who came to Okarche from Oklahoma Bible Academy last year with Lady Warriors head coach Kelli Jennings after a previous stop at Chisholm, remains employed as a fifth grade teacher in the district, Friesen said.
One parent, who spoke to the Warrior on condition of anonymity in order to protect the identity of her daughter, said Ullom’s outward disapproval of players’ social lives caused a rift between members of the team and left her daughter in an uncomfortable position after last basketball season ended.
On one occasion, she said, Ullom ‘basically told my daughter that she was going to hell because of who she chose to date,’ the source said. Ullom told another player that ‘Catholics were bad,’ according to the source.
“I had no issue with the Bible study, but when you start to become judgmental, that’s not Christian and those are not my beliefs,” the mother said.
She wants to see Ullom completely out of the school district.
“She’s still there and in a position where she can influence kids,” the mother said. “The girls didn’t want to be involved in any of this.”
The source said she was unsure if Okarche head coach Kelli Jennings knew of the controversy and the comments that were made at the Bible study. The mother said Jennings was award the Bible study occurred after practice on Wednesdays.
Attempts to reach Jennings were unsuccessful.
Ullom responded via Twitter message.
“I’ve been at all the summer camps and open gyms thus far,” she said. “I love that team and those kids and I’d appreciate my name not being slandered via hearsay.”
Another parent associated with the basketball program disagreed with Ullom’s potential removal and thought that the disgruntled parents were likely unhappy with playing time or coaching styles.
“We really like (coach Ullom) and we don’t feel like she did anything that damaging,” a mother of an Okarche player said. “I’m afraid they’re going to run off coach Jennings because of this.”