DES MOINES, Iowa -- Kameron Middlebrooks graduated from Roosevelt in 2007 and ran under long-time boys' track coach Joe McQuerry.
"My senior year we had won the conference meet 11 years in a row," said Middlebrooks. Earlier this week he read a petition that said McQuerry was "Unjustly released," as head coach by the Des Moines Public Schools District. Middlebrooks said, "To be honest with you, I thought it was a joke. Coach McQuerry to me was a tough but fair coach. Somebody I knew loved his players and his athletes."
At the same time, the school also cut ties with the Roosevelt alum and girl`s track coach Kim Carson, a 1996 NCAA champion at LSU. She coached the girls' team to a conference title in 2018. "The Kim that I know is just the same as Joe. She wants to see greatness come out of individual athletes. She wants to instill in them the toughness it takes to succeed," said Middlebrooks.
The Des Moines Public School District didn't give a reason but responded with a statement saying. "Under Iowa law, coaching contracts are one-year, non-renewing contracts. The decision not to issue a new coaching contract to any coach is not a public record under Iowa code." Middlebrooks responded saying, "Well he`s been year to year for twenty-nine years so obviously he`s shown what he means to that school."
As of Wednesday night, the change.org petition has around 1,500 signatures including Middlebrooks'. "Track being one sport, girls and boys that have proven to show dominance in this division and to take away that leadership it is kind of what are the next steps," asked Middlebrooks.
Middlebrooks, who is a former Midwest Regional Director for the NAACP says taking away two minority coaches from a diverse school will do more than impact a successful season.
"The few times that you see a black authority figure through school is through sports and having somebody be the highest authority, the head coach, that means a lot. It shows kids there are things you can attain," said Middlebrooks.
Supporters of Coach McQuerry and Coach Carson say they helped put Roughrider track in the fast lane and recent conference championships help back up their claims. It`s one of the reasons the decision by the district to not re-sign them has left many scratching their heads.
"When you eliminate two black coaches in the same day without giving just cause or reason to the public it is concerning to me," said Middlebrooks.
We reached out to both coaches but neither one was available for comment.