This article was published in the Feb. 28 edition of the Northwest Missourian as well as published on nwmissourinews.com
When the Maryville wrestling team took to the mats in Columbia, Missouri for the Class 2 state wrestling tournament at Mizzou Arena Feb 14-16, the Spoofhounds were without their core of coaches.
The Maryville R-II Board of Education accepted the immediate resignation of Maryville wrestling coach Kody Koster during its Feb. 20 meeting after suspending him and assistant coach Riley Klein, barring the duo from attending the state tournament.
The incident resulting in Koster and Klien’s suspension took place while the Spoofhounds were competing at the Class 2 District 14 tournament in Excelsior Springs Feb. 8-9
Koster told the Maryville Forum that Klein went to get alcohol for the two of them when the student-athletes were at the pool.
“During the time when we were swimming, Riley went and grabbed a six-pack of Busch Light,” Koster said to The Forum. “He asked me what I wanted. I’m not a big beer drinker so I said, ‘Just get me a little bottle of whiskey, and I’ll have a nightcap.’”
After swimming, the team then went to Dairy Queen for dinner. Koster made it clear there was no consumption of alcohol before or during the trip to dinner.
Before the two coaches started drinking, they surveyed the students’ rooms making sure all athletes were present. When the coaches came upon the one female room, with one female manager and one female wrestler, the manager was on a phone call and the female wrestler went and waited in the coaches’ room for her roommate’s phone call to end, according to The Forum.
“She came into our room for about 20 minutes, and she might have seen something. I don’t think she did, but she might have,” Koster said to The Forum. “She never confronted us about anything. (Superintendent Becky Albrecht, Assistant Superintendent Steve Klotz, and Activities Director Mat Beu) said because we had let her into the room and we had alcohol in there, that was kind of the biggest deal.”
Koster made it clear to The Forum that, by his evaluation, the students were never put into danger of any sort by him or his staff.
“There was no endangerment to the kids at all with us doing that,” Koster said. “It just bugs me because they don’t hold the same standard to everybody. … But we were guilty before we even got to say that we were not guilty. They took the parent’s side before they even wanted to hear our side of the story.”
When the ‘Hounds arrived back in Maryville, sophomore wrestler Connor Weiss said some athletes were called in for interviews in regards to the event to determine the punishment.
“A few people had to give statements,” Weiss said. “We talked about it as a team after school and kinda just felt terrible.”
When the news came out that Koster and Klein would be suspended for state, Weiss said the team was disappointed by the decision.
“All of us wrestlers were pretty down about it because we were really close to them,” Weiss said. “We all know it wasn’t like they were wasted, they just had a few drinks while we were already in bed, and then after that, they went to bed.”
The way the school district handled this event surprised Koster. He explained to The Forum he thought coaches were allowed to do what he did.
“I asked them, ‘I thought all the coaches did this?’” Koster said to The Forum. “It was just something that coaches did. I hear about other coaches going to the bars all the time. … This was just relaxing in the room, watching a movie and having a few drinks. They said, ‘Yeah, we understand the culture, and we know what happened, but for you guys, a parent turned you in so it makes it a little bit different.’”
Koster declined to elaborate on the interview with The Forum to The Missourian.
“There’s not much more of a story then what’s on The Forum,” Koster said to the Missourian when asked for additional comments. “The only thing I might add would be a little bit about the program. I would have liked to thank the wrestling team for a wonderful two years and for all the hard work they gave me.”
Junior state qualifier Gaven Grey-Walker said he could tell the suspension weighed on the wrestlers during the tournament.
“I definitely think it was in the mind of some of the wrestlers,” Grey-Walker said. “I get why they had to be suspended, but I didn’t like how the school had to suspend them right before state instead of waiting till after. A coaching change is never ideal before the biggest meet of the year.”
With the state tournament quickly following the suspension of Koster and Klein, Maryville turned to former coach and National Wrestling Hall of Famer Joe Drake to take the reigns of the program.
“We know it was still the wrong decision in the end, but we just wish it went another way,” Weiss said of the suspension. “Coach Drake was amazing as well. Props to him for taking time out of his life to put us in the best situation for state.”
Beu declined to comment on the situation and deferred to Albrecht for questions on personnel matters.
Albrecht acknowledged The Forum’s article regarding the matter but declined to comment on the situation.
The Spoofhounds are now tasked with finding a wrestling coach for the third time since the retirement of Drake in 2014.