Middle school football coach takes team to Hooters despite controversy

Middle school football coach takes team to Hooters despite controversy
Corbett Middle School football team members pose with Hooters waitresses on Saturday. (Photo by Mike Brandenberger, KATU News)

PORTLAND, Ore. – A Corbett Middle School football coach on Saturday took his team to Hooters to celebrate the end of their season despite objections from the school and some parents.

Randall Burbach said his decision to bring the team to Hooters created more controversy than he expected.

"I felt that what I had been trying to coach the kids was being tested," he said. "I tried to do as I have said to do. Stand and be accountable for the decision and the process that was made in the decision and stand for what I believe in, and I do not believe it was an improper venue."

The party was privately funded and families were invited as well, Burbach said.

Team member Keith Van Horn said he enjoyed the restaurant's atmosphere and he wasn't worried about the controversy.

"You just don't have to think about it," he said. "Just enjoy this and don't let anything conflict with that.

"Everybody has their own opinion. Everybody can do what they want. It's their choice."

Burbach won't be back to coach the team next year. He was a paid volunteer with no plans to return. The school was unhappy with the trip and the ensuing controversy, so the decision was apparently mutual.

"I have other employment," Burbach said. "I don't make money as a coach. I coach for the kids."

Corbett Middle School’s athletic director sent a letter to parents saying he didn’t support the decision because he feels Hooters objectifies women.

In part, the letter said: "Some might say that this restaurant objectifies women. I would tend to agree. I think it sends the wrong message to our young men and that saddens and worries me the most."

Though he admitted Hooters isn’t exactly a pizza parlor, Burbach said he wanted to take his team on a coming-of-age style trip to wrap up the season. Hooters features waitresses wearing revealing uniforms

Once the story gained national attention, Hooters of America offered to pick up the tab for the party. The company issued a statement on Tuesday:

"The Corbett Middle School football players, coaches and their families have earned the right to celebrate a successful, hard-fought season. This Saturday, Nov. 9, Hooters is picking up the tab for an awesome end-of-season football party to honor the team’s gridiron success. To top it all off, Hooters will donate $1,000 along with 20 percent of Saturday’s Jantzen Beach location sales to the Corbett Booster Club so that the entire community can join in celebrating the team’s winning season,” that statement said.

"I think it's been a little over-blown," said parent Vern Van Horn, who took his son to the party. "I believe that each parent needs to parent the way they feel is appropriate and proper, and I agree with them choosing not to bring their children here, but conversely, I don't think they should have demonized the whole event."

"I think if they have a good time, it's a win," he said.