Fired Estero cheerleading coach speaks out
ESTERO, Fla. - Too spicy to coach?
Nicole Zivich, an Estero High School varsity cheerleading coach mysteriously fired three days before Thanksgiving, says she wasn't given a reason but believes it's because she works part-time at Hooters.
"Very upsetting, it hurts," said Zivich, with tears in her eyes. "It's not about me it's about these kids."
Zivich says one parent complained about her off-the-field job, which helps support her two young kids. She says her coaching job only paid her $1300 for six months of work.
"It's sad when you get somebody young like myself who wants to do nothing but help kids," said Zivich, "and...it gets taken away from them."
"I want my job back," she said.
"To be clear you didn't do anything inappropriate, nothing wrong, that would be cause for you to be fired?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.
"No," said Zivich. "Nothing illegal or immoral in any way, shape, or form."
The district wouldn't comment on Zivich's firing.
"As you know, the district doesn't comment on personnel matters," said district spokesperson Joe Donzelli in a statement. "That is something more appropriately discussed directly between District officials and the employee(s) in question."
Zivich has worked at Hooters for five years and has been coaching on-and-off at Estero for four years, she told us.
She says she loved coaching and mentoring the girls.
"It's about the kids, I love what I do," said Zivich.
But that love isn't shared by the school's principal George Clover, who is apparently standing by his decision.
"I met with him today face-to-face," said Zivich. "He told me that we had philosophical differences."
"What did he mean by that?," asked Grant.
"I don't know," said Zivich.
Zivich was fired with two other coaches, who have since been reinstated. Word of their firing angered her squad. Last week, nearly 15 girls and parents begged the school board to reinstate them.
"If she doesn't coach I'm not going to cheer," one girl told board members. "And I don't want to stop."
"To see them stand up for me and stand up for what they believe in was amazing," said Zivich, who says the support means "everything."
Fox 4 blocked from covering
We heard the Estero High School cheerleaders were planning to wear ribbons at Monday night's basketball game. But the school, it seems, didn't want us covering this story.
The school's athletic director told us we could only stay if we covered the game and not the cheerleading controversy.
"So if we want to talk to the cheerleaders we have to go?," asked Grant.
"Direct from by boss is you have to leave the campus if this is to do with cheerleading that is correct," the athletic director told us.
As for Zivich, she says even though she's been sidelined she will still be with the girls in spirit cheering from the stands.
"If you could say one thing to the girls you coached what would you say?," asked Grant.
"I love them very much," said Zivich, "and they all know that."
Matt Grant, Reporter