On Monday, June 29, a large crowed gathered outside of Humiston School in support of Cheshire High School football coach Don Drust, after word had spread days prior that his job was in jeopardy.
Accompanying Drust to a meeting with District administrators, including Superintendent of Schools Jeff Solan, Monday morning was his wife Kristine Drust, the CHS girl’s softball head coach. After the meeting, Drust emerged to cheers and told the crowd that had rallied together that the process “is ongoing” and that he would “continue to fight for my family.”
The circumstances that precipitated the meeting remain unclear for now, but multiple sources have told The Herald that the problem stems from an issue with Drust’s coaching certification.
Head coaches are required to take a coaching permit class sponsored by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC), explained Mike Ciotti, a current member of CHS football coaching staff. “It's a 40 hour class that’s a real pain to do. Once it’s over, all you want to do is get out there and coach.”
“When Drust finished his certification, he immediately jumped into coaching,” Ciotti continued.
Whatever the issue, sources have told The Herald that it was discovered approximately four years into Drust’s tenure as head coach of the football team, a position he has held since 2012. Ciotti for one was under the impression that whatever the problem, it had been resolved.
“Being the upstanding guy that he is, he went to the office and got it fixed,” said Ciotti. “He dotted all his I’s and crossed his T’s. It was over in like 15 minutes.”
Solan declined to comment on the matter citing the fact that it is a personnel issue. As of Monday evening, Drust had not been removed from his position as coach.
According to Ciotti, word began to spread late last week that Drust’s job was in jeopardy and that a meeting would be held on Monday to further address the issue.
“Over the weekend we bombarded the Board of Education and Superintendent’s office with letters in support of Coach Drust,” he added. “We don’t know why this is happening to him, but we are all in support of him because he is an amazing human being and coach.”
Public support mounted on social media and a letter was drafted, acquiring signatures from former CHS athletes, their parents, and others who claim to have benefited from Drust’s coaching. The letter states that “the Board of Education and Town of Cheshire has provided no context for this decision and we demand transparency”. The letter details Drust’s awards—most notably the 2019 National Football Foundation Chapter Coach of the Year—and how effective he has been since his hiring.
“We request full transparency from the Board of Education regarding the forced resignation of Coach Drust and ask them to reconsider the motives behind this travesty. Politics have no place in athletics and they must do what is right for the students of CHS,” the letter concludes.
A video of the rally circulated on Facebook Monday morning, including an emotional Drust as he addressed the crowd before departing. “I’m humbled,” Drust told the group, his voice breaking. “For me, no matter the future … I will always have this.”
“Whether you know it (or not), everything that you do helps me,” he continued. “I’m talking about being around you everyday, I’m talking about getting to know you...I’m a better father, a better husband because of it, and I can’t thank you enough.”
Drust concluded his remarks by insisting that he was going to continue to “fight for what I believe is right...and what I believe is right for you.”
On Monday evening, the Board of Education held a meeting but declined to discuss the issue. Board Chairman Anthony Perugini, when reached by The Herald, also declined to comment.
Calls to Don Drust were not immediately returned.