A standing-room only crowd of more than 150 Corona del Sol football parents waited dubiously on Monday night for Zane Zamenski to explain himself.
About an hour later, the group seemed ready to move forward.
It has been an eventful few weeks for the Aztec football program, after first-year coach Zamenski was investigated and subsequently punished for using inappropriate profane, racial and sexual remarks to his players this summer.
Many called for his firing, but Tempe district superintendent Steve Adolph said during the 6 p.m. meeting in the Corona del Sol auditorium that it was his decision to keep Zamenski in charge. Zamenski was suspended for five days without pay and will undergo mandatory sensitivity training.
Adolph also said Zamenski will be on a very short leash, and another episode like this will be cause for immediate termination. However, he said that not all the accusations about his lewd remarks were proven to be true.
“I believe he’s a good human being, with a good heart, who cares about kids and deserves that second opportunity,” Adolph said afterward.
Zamenski read his apology from a prepared statement, and then opened up to questions from the disgruntled parents.
At first, the tone was accusatory.
Parents were unhappy with the language Zamenski used around their teenage sons, and one questioned whether he could successfully switch up his style of coaching after decades of doing it the same way.
While Zamenski wasn’t particularly polished with his answers, many parents — at least the majority of ones that spoke up — seemed to accept his apology, eager to put this behind them and move ahead with football.
“Everyone is deserving of a second chance,” said one Corona del Sol parent, who was echoed by several others.
It’s unquestionably a rocky start, exacerbated by the fact that Zamenski has been around the team for only a few months and doesn’t have the same connection with the group as former coach Gary Venturo.
But, for now, it seems like the controversy will die down.
Barring any other incidents, Zamenski will be at the helm on Aug. 27 when the Aztecs play Desert Mountain.
“It is my intent to regain the trust of the players, and you, the parents, here at Corona del Sol,” Zamenski told the crowd. “I ask for your forgiveness, patience and support.”
He seems to have it for now. But there won’t be any wiggle room going forward.
“There’s no three strikes and you’re out,” Adolph said. “He will lose his job if those behaviors continue.”