The ultimatum came as a complete surprise.
“I had not been made aware of any issues before, during, or after the season (until April 19),” Heny said via email Monday morning. “I declined to resign given the reasons they presented to me.”
Heny will retain his positions at the high school as a teacher and assistant football coach.
Both Heny and Superintendent Kevin Mitchell declined to comment on the reasons for Heny’s termination as head basketball coach. Powell High School vice principal and athletic director Tim Wormald was unavailable for comment by press time Monday.
“All I can tell you is that I proudly stand behind everything I did as a head coach and that I did nothing technically wrong,” Heny said. “Unfortunately for me, it seems a difference in philosophy has arisen so I will be removed as the head coach.
“Obviously, there is a group out there somewhere that didn’t agree with all of my decisions.”
Heny has been receiving feedback from the community ever since rumors of his dismissal began to swirl around Powell a few weeks ago.
“People who know me and what I was trying to accomplish have been very supportive. I take great comfort in all of the people who appreciated what we were able to achieve these last four years,” Heny said.
Heny’s basketball coaching fate is now in the hands of the Park County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees.
An item on the agenda for tonight’s (Tuesday) board meeting states that Mitchell recommends terminating Heny from his position at the varsity squad’s helm.
Efforts by the public seeking answers during the board meeting will be futile, as it is school district policy to keep all matters of personnel private. Comments on the item will not be allowed.
“There won’t be a lot of drama,” Mitchell said. “The Chairman (Rob McCray) will explain that personnel issues are not discussed at public meetings.”
While the motive for his termination is unknown, the timing seems unusual.
The Heny-led Panthers are coming off a 10-4 (18-9 overall) season that included a regional championship and ended with a 41-39 loss to Star Valley in the class 3A state championship game. In his four years as head coach, Heny has led nine players to all-conference honors, three to all-state, two to berths in the Wyoming Coaches Association all-star game and one in the Wyoming-Montana all-star series.
“I am very proud of what I accomplished during my four-year run as the head coach,” Heny said.
If Heny is fired, it will be the first time in 18 years that he’s been without a position coaching basketball, a reality that hasn’t truly sunk in for the coaching veteran.
“I am still in a bit of a state of shock over this whole thing,” Heny said.
But Heny knows this kind of unexpected situation comes with the territory.
“Coaches are an at-will position, so they don’t have to give me any reason to let me go,” he said. “The administration is well within their rights to decide to take the program in a different direction.”
Heny said he has spoken with most of his players to wish them luck in their future endeavors.
Senior Marshall McArthur, who sits third all-time on Powell High School’s career scoring list, knows Heny as well as any other player. The two arrived at PHS in 2009 and have been together on the basketball court for four years.
McArthur, himself confused by the circumstances surrounding Heny’s ousting, said he felt anger when he heard of Heny’s dismissal and rumors that he treated certain players unfairly.
“He does everything in the summer. If you want to be good, you can be good,” he said in an interview with the Tribune Monday. “I felt like he was fair. We begged kids during the summer time to come play.”
McArthur recalled his freshman season, during which the Panthers went 3-23 and home games were attended only by parents.
“It’s just frustrating because he was actually building a program,” McArthur said. “He put everything he had into it. He definitely cared about his players.”
As for his own future, Heny hopes to someday coach again.
“Coaching basketball is something I love to do and if the situation was right, I definitely would like to pursue a head coaching position again,” he said. “I love basketball and coached for a long time at the middle school level so that may be something I look to in the future as well.”
Tonight’s board meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at the school administration building, 160 N. Evarts St.