Crosby’s Michelle Trotter experiences whirlwind coaching situation
Michelle Trotter had a hunch that she would be one of more than 100 teachers and staff members that received a pink slip this year as Crosby ISD dealt with a budget crisis.
Despite leading the Lady Cougars to the regional finals last year and the state semifinals three years ago, the girls basketball coach was informed that she would be laid off on Oct. 4.
Trotter, who also served as the district’s Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator, felt like her position might be eliminated.
“To be perfectly honest, I kind of figured it was coming when they had the board meeting back in September, and it was announced that there were going to be cuts. In my heart and in my mind, I already knew that there was a possibility that it was going to be mine,” Trotter said. ’I knew that the social studies curriculum coordinator might be one. The district had gone without one before.”
Her last day was supposed to be Dec. 20. Trotter had to break the news to her players.
“Rumor mills are terrible, and I knew it wasn’t going to be very long before they were going to find out,” she said. “I found out on Thursday, and I told our administrators that I wanted to tell the kids the next day. I didn’t want them to hear it through the rumor mill. We have standards in basketball, and one of our standards is communication. I wanted to uphold that, and I wanted to honor that standard.”
She remembers the room being full of tears.
She told her players that, if the district didn’t find a new position for her by Dec. 20, she was going to be replaced as coach. The move was a blow to the athletics department, Crosby ISD athletic director Jeff Riordan said.
“I was upset when I found out that Coach Trotter was part of the (reduction in force),” Riordan recalled. “I was confused on how it would affect her and the kids. It would become effective in the middle of the season. She has put her heart into this program and these athletes, so the timing would have been miserable.”
Trotter tried to keep things as consistent as possible. She showed up every day and ran practice just like she always had. She didn’t want anything to feel different.
While she didn’t approach coaching any differently, Trotter admits the situation wore on her emotionally.
“You go into the football game on Friday night, and you have people coming up and talking to you,” she said. My husband said, ‘it’s almost like attending your own funeral,’ and that’s really how I felt all weekend long. I had some people who gave me flowers and couples who took us out to eat and brought food to our house. Some people dropped some encouraging notes to my door. So it was kind of like experiencing your own funeral. It’s tough but I guess there was part of me that kind of knew it was coming.”
Trotter leaned heavily on her faith during that period.
She was also heartened by the hope that Crosby ISD would find a new position for her, something which administrators had told her they were trying hard to do. That hope was buoyed by her friends and colleagues.
“I just leaned on people that were there to support me; I guess that’s how I rode the wave (of emotions),” Trotter said. “I leaned on faith, leaned on prayer, leaned on my friends. My husband was encouraging me every day. We had a lot of prayer together.”
Then on a Monday in early December, she got a text message from Crosby ISD superintendent Scott Davis wanting to talk to her.
He told her that a middle school social studies teacher had resigned and offered her that position.
“I wasn’t really sure (what Davis wanted),” she recalled. “When the superintendent texts you, you’re not really sure what you’re going to get, but I was hopeful about what it might be.”
Davis said Trotter is an asset to the district.
“To have her still in Crosby ISD — continuing to make an impact on students is a great source of joy for us,” Davis said. “Her positive attitude and motivation to continue working through difficult circumstances are the characteristics we want our students to learn from the adults they interact with every day.”
Trotter waited eight days, until all the paperwork cleared, before informing her players of the news to be sure that everything was official.
Before an upcoming game, she nonchalantly told them she had good news and bad news. The good news was she was staying as coach. The bad news was that the players were headed to lift weights.
“They were celebrating, but we did like we’ve always done,” she said. “We just went right into practice. We didn’t focus on that; that’s not what we needed to be focused on that day.”
Despite the adversity, the team is still in solid contention for a playoff spot. It would be the Lady Cougars fourth playof berth in five years.
The Lady Cougars are 7-3 through their first 10 district games. They are in fourth place in Disrict 22-5A, one game out of second place, two games out of first place and three games ahead of fifth place.
Their 11th district game is this evening at 7 P.M. at Goose Creek Memorial, one of the teams in front of them in the district standings and a team to whom they lost 63-61 in the first round of district play.
“I guess the whole situation makes you think that, when you’ve got it good, you better really enjoy it. You better really appreciate it, because you never know what might change,” she concluded.