Ada High softball coach Pete Benes emailed a letter to Ada City School officials recently, informing them that he would not return for the 2018 season.
The Lady Cougars failed to win a game this fall, finishing 0-24 on the season.
Last year Ada went 13-19 (giving Benes an overall record of 13-42) but ended that season with a big win over local rival Byng. However, Benes mentioned nothing about wins and losses in his letter that he also sent to The Ada News.
“Amidst pressure from the administration and unnamed community members, I have decided to step down as head coach of Ada High School Softball. The administration has received anonymous emails and letters expressing negative feedback regarding my faith in Jesus Christ and my choice to play clean music at practices and games,” Benes said in the letter.
Even with the alleged backlash over his faith and decisions regarding music played at the Ada High Softball Complex, Benes said he wrestled with his decision to step away from the program. It’s inaccurate to call Benes’ decision a “resignation,” since he was hired under an extra-duty contract that began July 15 and expired the last day of the season.
Benes made it clear he feels like he acted in accordance with any laws concerning separation of church and state.
“This decision does not come easy for me. It does come after much prayer and wise counsel. I love coaching and that has not changed, but this type of environment is unhealthy for me and my family. I do not feel I have violated any laws with regards to separation of church and state, but also feel my God-given gifts can be used much more freely in other arenas,” the letter read.
Ada City Schools administrators refused to comment on whether there was any pressure put on Benes or what details were included in the alleged letters received from the public, but they said they wish him luck in his future endeavors.
“We appreciate that Pete took over the program late in the year two years ago and commend him on the hard work during his time as the softball coach. He has brought many positive changes to our program,” said Ada Athletic Director Bryan Harwell. “We have a great deal of respect for Pete and wish him well.”
Benes said he’s made many fond memories while coaching the Lady Cougars over the past two years.
“No doubt I will miss the kids and especially the ones I have seen grow in softball and life,” the letter said.
“I want to thank coach Austin Jarvis and coach Maycee Bottoms (Benes’ assistants) for their dedication and support this season. Maycee has a bright future in coaching if she chooses to pursue it and Austin is undoubtedly an asset to any program. Also want to thank my family, friends, and softball parents who have sacrificed countless hours helping me and this program over the last couple years,” Benes said in the letter.