CUMBERLAND – Victor Oliveira believed he would remain the boys varsity head soccer coach at Davies Tech for the foreseeable future.
After all, the Cumberland resident arguably has been the most successful coach at the Breakneck Hill Road voc-tech over the past 15-20 years, having taken the Patriots to three straight state Division III finals between 2014-16; including back-to-back championships in 2015-16.
Oliveira, however, discovered late last week that the school had terminated not only his job but his son and assistant Jason’s. The elder Oliveira claimed he never received word from anyone at Davies, including Athletic Director Bob Morris and Director Adam Flynn.
That’s why he’s so livid. He says he feels blindsided.
“I’m beyond upset because I was never notified,” stated Oliveira, who indicated he has coached the team every fall since 2007, when then-AD Mill Murphy hired him. “All they had to do was call me and thank me for my service, then tell me they decided to go in a different direction. I would’ve been fine with that, but I didn’t receive any word at all. I still haven’t.
“Apparently, they didn’t value me enough to let me know they wanted someone else.”
When contacted, Morris stated, “I’m not at liberty to discuss the matter. I was told by the administration everything had to go through our director, Adam Flynn. Mr. Flynn is now out of the country on vacation.”
The questions persist: Has Davies hired a new head coach? Is Oliveira out of a job he says he put his heart and soul into for 12 years? (The answer is undeniably “yes”).
“I found out late last week that there was something going on,” Oliveira noted. “Some of the varsity kids (coming out for the team this year) had texted my son about pre-season practices, and Jason asked me what was going on. This was Aug. 5 or 6.
“I told him, ‘Let me find out what’s going on.’ I smelled something fishy going on,” he added. “I contacted Kevin DosSantos, the girls’ (varsity soccer) assistant coach, and asked him if he already heard from the school about his job, and he said he had the previous week.
“He told me the school was sending out acceptance letters to the (fall sports) coaches, meaning they were coming back. There were past years that I received one, there were others I didn’t, but when that happened, I knew I was coming back.
“I assumed that was going to happen this year, but I was wrong. I told Kevin, ‘Something’s not right,’ and then he went on the Davies’ Web site and discovered they had hired another coach. When he told me that, I was stunned. They named another coach without having the decency of informing me.
“Again, if they had, I would’ve been fine with it because that’s their ultimate decision; my problem was they didn’t. I mean, I could have applied to other schools earlier this year if I had known. I did have one school ask me if I was still coaching at Davies, and I said I was. That was back in mid-winter.”
The Davies powers-that-be may not want to discuss the matter, but a rumor had circulated last fall, late in the season, that Oliveira may have used an ineligible player in a contest at Cranston West.
When asked about that incident, Oliveira admitted the allegation was true.
“Let’s put it this way: I did use a kid; we were playing a league game down there, and what happened was we had to play a lot of JV kids because we had some injuries to varsity players,” he stated. “I had a shortage, and we were down, 3-0, at halftime.”
He continued the story, stating that a senior who had represented his team for the previous three years apparently had been deemed ineligible at season’s start.
“Davies has a ‘no-fail’ policy, so if a kid fails a class, he can’t play unless he goes to summer school,” Oliveira recalled. “The same kid went to his guidance counselor the previous spring saying he had to make the class up in summer school. The counselor, though, said, ‘You don’t have to. You’ve got enough credits to graduate.’
“He found out later that he was in fact ineligible,” he added. “He had been so dedicated, and he was so (dejected), I told him, ‘If you want to be part of the team anyway, come to practice every day and work hard, and you can be. But you can’t play in a game.’ The AD was aware of this.”
Sometime last season, Davies had a non-league tilt slated at Cumberland High, and Oliveira alleges he asked Morris if he could play the boy in question against the Clippers, considering it was a glorified scrimmage.
Oliveira indicated Morris had given him the “OK” for that.
Not long after came the league game at Cranston West, and the coach told the player he could enter and compete.
“At halftime, all the kids were asking me, ‘Why don’t you play him? He practices with us all the time, and he works hard. You have to.’ I guess I caved to the kids; they were so adamant in giving the kid his day,” he explained. “But I want to make it very clear: I didn’t use that kid to get any kind of advantage on my opposition. How could I have? We were losing, 3-0, when he went in, and that’s how it ended.
“It was toward the end of the season, so we only had four or five games left,” he continued. “We weren’t going to make the playoffs, considering we only had one win and tied two others going into that (CW) game.
“I was so short of players due to injuries and other reasons, I had to put a freshman goalie into the game just so I could put our usual goalie (his captain, Jonathan Soares) on the field … I will not say I was justified in all this, but I did have my reasons – being fair to the kid. He worked hard for me and his teammates.
“By the way, that player was eligible to play according to Interscholastic League rules, but not Davies’ (academic) rules. That’s the only time I’ve ever done that. I’ve got nothing to hide.”