September 22 - The coaching vacancy at Patriot has been posted amid an outcry of support for former coach Josh Steinberg.
The position is scheduled to close on Sept. 30, and reports are that the school’s director of student activities, Brad Qualls, would like to conduct interviews and have a new coach selected by the end of that week.
In a move unpopular with the Patriot baseball community and without any cause related to his program’s on-field performance, Qualls informed Steinberg on Wednesday that he would not be retained. Steinberg was 67-24, won league championships in two of his four seasons and was named the 6A North Region Coach of the Year in 2017.
Qualls and principal Mike Bishop have not responded to over a dozen attempts requesting they elaborate on the administration’s decision. Steinberg was presented at his meeting with Qualls and an assistant principal at the school with a document describing the reasons for his not being retained, but he is unable to reveal those reasons per Prince William County Schools regulations. The magazine has learned through multiple sources, however, that no reasons were related to on-field performance and the majority were centered around the baseball facility as well as other tasks such as locker room duty and attending booster club meetings.
Several area head coaches have been interviewed since the story broke: none said they’ve ever been mandated locker room duty as part of their coaching responsibilities, and they all indicated they rarely if ever attend booster club meetings. One coach said he’s attended two in over two decades as an area coach, all spent at the same school.
Several coaches have also chimed in regarding the perceived issues with the facility, calling Patriot’s field one of the best in Northern Virginia.
“I thought their field was outstanding, and I think the facility as a whole is outstanding,” said Centreville coach Scott Rowland, whose Wildcats have played at Patriot the past two years in the Class 6 Region 6D Tournament. “The two times we played there, the field and batting cages were in great shape. Just overall an outstanding program.”
Steinberg has received public messages of support on social media from dozens of current and former players and parents, and from several high school and college coaches. Two of his assistants, Keith Howell and Rich Davila, have also posted in support of him. A number of Patriot parents are organizing and plan to rally behind the former coach, including at the next PWCS school board meeting on Oct. 2.
Bishop was once the president of the Gainesville Haymarket Baseball League and has a son in the Patriot program. Qualls also has a baseball background, having played at C.D. Hylton along with former Patriot coach Sammy Serrano, and he was once a part-owner along with Serrano of the Virginia/D.C. franchise of Prep Baseball Report. He was named the 2017 Administrator of the Year by the Virginia Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association.
“[Qualls] models integrity and demonstrates professionalism in everything that he does,” Bishop said in a February 2018 release by PWCS after the DSA was honored. “He is a man of outstanding character, and he takes pride in our students’ accomplishments as Pioneers.”
Ironically, Qualls was honored for his performance during the calendar year in which Steinberg led Patriot to the region championship game and the school’s second state tournament berth. Some have questioned his character as details have emerged of Steinberg’s ouster: Qualls initially beckoned Steinberg with his intentions not to retain him without Bishop’s knowledge and on the coach’s first day back from paternity leave.
Photo of Josh Steinberg by Fred Ingham