By Ben • Ben Schorzman • 

Chewning resigns at Willamina, Vang hired as replacement

“I think we hired an outstanding softball coach,” Buczynski said.

Vang replaces Brad Chewning, who resigned because of health issues, Buczynski said. Chewning coached 10 years in Willamina, leading the Bulldogs to a state championship in 2010 and four consecutive appearances in the state title game from 2007-10. Chewning did not coach the first half of the season last year after having surgery to remove a tumor from his back.

“During Brad’s time here as head coach,” Buczynski said, “it was our most successful period in girls athletics. … He did an outstanding job.”

Vang’s hiring doesn’t come without some controversy. In April of 2010, Vang was arrested and released by Gresham police in connection with a hit-and-run from October 2009 that occurred on Oregon 99E north of Aurora when he was driving back from a football game he had coached in at Barlow. According to The Oregonian, Vang called 911 and told dispatchers that he might have hit something on the road early in the morning of Oct. 31, 2009. Not finding anything in a search, Vang left the scene, but responders from the Oregon State Police and Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office later found 23-year-old Benjamin Story lying in the road.

Story was taken by LifeFlight to a Portland-area hospital.

Vang was indicted by a Clackamas County Grand Jury in April on a felony hit-and-run charge after a six-month investigation. In August of 2010, Vang pleaded guilty to one count of failure to perform the duties of a driver to an injured person. On Aug. 1, 2010, Vang resigned his position in the Gresham-Barlow School District as a campus monitor. The Oregonian reported Vang was to be sentenced Sept. 7, 2010 to 45 days in jail according to the plea agreement, but it wasn’t clear if Vang had served any time behind bars.

Buczysnki said Story then attempted to press charges, but a judge threw out the civil suit. Since then Vang has struggled to find a new coaching job. Vang was recently hired to be the general manager for Space Age Fuel in the Salem area.

Buczynski said he did his due diligence in researching Vang’s past and had no qualms in hiring the experienced coach despite his past.

“We felt more than comfortable offering him the job,” Buczynski said. “He’s happy to be here.”

Vang was an assistant coach on Barlow’s varsity football team from 2002 until he resigned in 2010. He coached the running backs and special teams. Before moving to Gresham, Vang coached football and basketball at Sherwood.

“I’m elated,” Vang said of taking over the job. “Coaching softball for me is my life. I’m glad it’s behind me and that I can do what I like.”

Vang, 49, said coaching at 3A Willamina compared to 6A Barlow wouldn’t change much for him. He graduated from Douglas High School in Southern Oregon and knows what it’s like to live in a small town.

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