41-Year-Old Track Coach Accompanies Teen To Prom; Loses Job
Daughter-in-law of Nike co-founder got permission from student's father before going to dance
This story would work wonderfully on some teenage TV drama ... a volunteer track coach was relieved of her duties at a high school in Oregon for escorting a 17-year-old student to his prom last month.
And, to further sweeten the plot line, there's this; Melissa Bowerman, 41, who coached the track and field team at Condon High School with her husband, Jon Bowerman, 73, who just happens to be Nike co-founder, Bill Bowerman's son.
The former coach conceded that she made an "error in judgement", but reportedly had good intentions for her actions, as the student was allegedly upset about not having a prom date and was also struggling with his English grades, according to The Associated Press.
"If they go on (academic) probation and suspension, then they can't go to the track meets," explained Bowerman. "I said, 'OK, I will go with you, but we've got to talk about English first. You're going to do better in English."
The boy's father, Bob Thomas, spoke up about the peculiar situation, admitting that he gave Bowerman permission to be his son's date. "The first thing I thought, 'Maybe this isn't a good idea.' But Melissa has been like a surrogate mom to these kids for years," said Thomas.
Bowerman insisted that she didn't have an inappropriate relationship with the teen, and said that while she had a few slow dances with the boy, they mainly played foosball and ping pong.
When a chaperone noticed the 24 year age difference between the dates, she alerted Gilliam County Sheriff Gary Bettencourt, who acceded that Bowerman wasn't breaking any laws.
After being told that she wasn't allowed to ride on the school track team's charter bus last week like she usually did for the last four years, she was told to "un-volunteer" from her position shortly afterwards via a telephone call from school officials.
Her husband, Jon Bowerman(32 years her senior), doesn't understand what the fuss is about, and is rumbling about resigning from his volunteer position at the school, while also threatening to sell his family's ranch and move away.
"The only thing we've done wrong is build them a new track and get uniforms and build them a powerhouse program," said Bowerman, who along with his wife helped the Condon/Wheeler track team grow from 6 athletes to 30. "If she doesn't come back, I'm not coming back."