Former players surprised, saddened by news of charges against coachFormer players coached by Eric Darwitz on the Park High School girls hockey team and the St. Paul Park American Legion Baseball team said they were taken aback by news that he’d been charged with criminal sexual conduct for having sex with two former hockey players when they were 16 years old.
By: Scott Wente, South Washington County Bulletin
Former players coached by Eric Darwitz on the Park High School girls hockey team and the St. Paul Park American Legion Baseball team said they were taken aback by news that he’d been charged with criminal sexual conduct for having sex with two former hockey players when they were 16 years old.
“I was really shocked,” said Jac Daggit, a 2008 Park High School graduate and hockey player. “Eric was a great coach, I think he is probably one of the top coaches that I feel that I had.”
Darwitz resigned from his job at Park High School in late summer of 2006 for a job coaching girls-under-16 hockey at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault, Minn. After the charges were filed, Darwitz was placed on administrative leave from his job at the school.
Daggit, who played under Darwitz for two years, said she never saw anything or heard anything on the team that suggested he was having inappropriate relationships with players.
“I was very comfortable with him on a player-to-coach level, he knew what he was talking about and he wanted to help his team develop,” she said.
Darwitz, a Park High School graduate, also coached St. Paul Park American Legion Baseball for more than five years.
Matt Doornink, one of his players, and later his assistant coach on the team said he was “pretty surprised” to hear about the charges.
“He’s a real great guy — fun to talk to, fun to be around,” Doornink said. “He really put himself on a level with us and it was kind of like he was one of the guys.”
Due to his job at Shattuck and other time constraints Darwitz had stepped down from his role as head coach of the legion baseball team about six months ago, and Doornink stepped into the role, he said.
“Darwitz is a great guy that has good intentions and is fun to be around and talk to. Unfortunately he made a bad decision and now he’ll have to deal with the consequences,” Doornink said. “Everyone that knows Darwitz is hoping for the best for him even though none of us would condone what happened.”