ALBANY — Two weeks after being suspended for the rest of the season, Sherwood boys basketball coach Bryan Gelfand was fired on Wednesday.
Sherwood headmaster Glen Schultz declined to give a specific reason for not renewing Gelfand’s contract, but Gelfand said his termination stemmed from an incident after a Feb. 14 game against rival Terrell Academy when the first-year coach was heard using inappropriate language as he walked off the court.
“The school didn’t like my demeanor toward the ref,” Gelfand said. “In a show of emotion as I was walking off the court, talking to myself and looking at the floor I let out some curse words, and that’s what the suspension was for. It wasn’t bad language directed at anybody.”
Gelfand said he would have understood a suspension for a couple of games because of the incident, but he was surprised by the school’s decision to suspend him for the rest of the season. On Wednesday, he met with Schultz in a one-on-one meeting that he thought would give him a second chance with the Eagles.
“Instead, it was a meeting about them letting me go,” Gelfand said. “I thought it was going to be more of a meeting about what I needed to do to rectify the situation. I wasn’t given that option.
“It’s a Christian academy with Christian values, and I graduated from here so I know that. But I also know that I made a mistake in the heat of the battle and the heat of the moment. Unfortunately I wasn’t given a second chance to redeem myself next year, especially after leading them to a region championship.”
Gelfand, who was employed solely as the boys basketball coach and was not a staff member at the school, later added: “Especially coming from a Christian school with such high Christian values I know they have, it’s one of the principles of the Christian walk that no man is perfect and that we all sin. I wasn’t given a second chance to redeem myself.”
Schultz said it wasn’t a lone incident that prompted the school to part ways with Gelfand.
“We wouldn’t make a decision based on one incident,” Schultz said. “After careful consideration we made the decision to go another direction with our boys basketball program next year. We hold our staff to high standards of conduct consistent with our mission and values, and we felt we had to go that way.”
Gelfand, who attends Mt. Zion Baptist Church, said he believed there was an issue with him not attending Sherwood Baptist Church, which all Sherwood Christian Academy staff members are encouraged to do.
Schultz said that wasn’t a factor in the decision.
“That has nothing to do with it whatsoever. That was not an issue,” Schultz said. “When people come in from the outside and are hired as full-time staff members, that’s one of the expectations we have. When we hire community coaches, that’s not a requirement.”
Gelfand was the fifth head coach of the Eagles in the past five seasons, meaning that the revolving door for head coaches will continue for a sixth straight year. Gelfand, who was instrumental in guiding the team to its third region championship in school history, said he didn’t consider Sherwood a tough place to coach until two weeks ago.
“I guess standards-wise it is (a tough place to coach),” said Gelfand, who was a player on Sherwood’s 1996 team that won a region championship and was runner-up in the state tournament. “I’m kind of speechless. I knew I was going to be the fifth coach in five years, but I also knew I was an alumni with great ties to the school and church. I wasn’t worried about it. … An outsider looking at this is going to look at it and wonder about the stability. A) Do I take this job?, and B) If I’m not from here do I move my whole family to take this job?”
Schultz said the school is looking to hire its newest coach as soon as possible, while Gelfand plans on continuing his coaching career elsewhere.
“At first the plan was to stay at Sherwood as long as I could,” said Gelfand, who played college basketball at Division I University of Central Florida. “I didn’t have any aspirations to coach at any higher levels, but now that I have the coaching itch I want to keep coaching.”
Gelfand is currently coaching the Albany Elite AAU team, which includes Herald Super 6ers Anfernee McLemore from Worth County and Gary McCrae from Randolph-Clay.