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Trinidad alumni, coaches shocked over firings

Trinidad alumni, coaches shocked over firings

TRINIDAD, Colo. - Trinidad High School lost its entire football coaching staff overnight.

In all, seven coaches were told Wednesday that they would not be back for the next school year. 

Head coach Randy Begano, his brother Frank Begano, Mike Ridolfi and Gary Vezzani were fired from the football coaching staff.  Kristina Vezzani and another cheer coach were also let go.  A sixth coach, Mitch McGill was retained but told officials he would not return, according to our partners at the Pueblo Chieftain.

"We as coaches, we are in shock," said Kristina Vezzani, former head cheer coach at Trinidad High School.  "We cannot understand why this is being done."

Vezzani told KRDO NewsChannel 13 that she and her husband, Gary Vezzani, were told in a 2-minute meeting that they would no longer be coaches.  Gary Vezzani is also a math teacher at the district and will retain that position.  Vezzani said no reason was given for the dismissal.

KRDO NewsChannel 13 called Trinidad School District #1 superintendent, Dr. Manuel Rodriguez, who said he could not discuss the matter because it is a personnel issue.  Rodriguez did say the district would be looking to hire new coaches.

New coaches are not good enough for Trinidad students.  Hundreds of students and parents protested outside of Trinidad's administrative offices on Thursday.  They held signs that said, "One team, one goal" and "Miner Pride." 

Brother and sister, Abraham and Angelica Guevara, both graduated from Trinidad High School.  They told KRDO NewsChannel 13 that they were shocked when they heard the coaches were fired.

"Sports is a big deal at Trinidad," Angelica said.  "I was considered a geeky art kid and I showed up at the games. It was a tradition; it's a community; it's a legacy."

Abraham agreed, saying Coach Randy Begano was a particular inspiration to him. 

"Randy Begano is a cornerstone in that football team," Abraham said.  "They're really passionate about their jobs.  They wanted to see their students do well because they're not just coaches, they're teachers as well."

There is some speculation that the move comes after a high profile lawsuit involving the football coaches and football helmet manufacturer Riddell. 

In April, a Las Animas County jury awarded $11.5 million to a former Trinidad football player Rhett Ridolfi, 22, after finding Riddell negligent in failing to warn players about possible concussion dangers.

Both Beganos and Mike Ridolfi were found negligent in that case.

Kristina Vezzani told KRDO that she had her suspicions as to why they were fired, but didn't think it involved the helmet lawsuit.

"I think it's personal.  I will say that much," she said.

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