SEATTLE — Last week, the softball coach at Seattle’s Roosevelt High School sent members of his team on an unusual scavenger hunt. The mission: Take photos of “cute girls” and bring them back, with telephone numbers, for his perusal.
Instead of fielding flies, the players were farmed out to snag him a date, according to a string of text messages he sent to one of the young women targeted in the hunt.
Troy Hennum, 25, was placed on unpaid leave just six days into his new job as coach, Seattle Public Schools said Thursday. He was hired despite the school knowing he had been investigated by his former school district for sending inappropriate texts to an athlete in 2012, a district spokeswoman said.
He resigned from his position Thursday.
Hennum also coaches a select softball team in Bothell and has been coaching middle-school boys basketball since 2008 in the Edmonds School District in Lynnwood.
He did not return three phone messages and two emails from a reporter. By Thursday afternoon, his photo and biography had been removed from the school’s softball team website.
Katharine Aagard said she was at work at a sporting-goods store last Friday when a group of giggling girls approached, explaining their mission. Later that day, the 21-year-old began receiving text messages from Hennum.
“this is troy. The roosevelt softball coach. I had to see if your legit,” he wrote.
Aagard responded, and the two bantered over the course of a few hours.
She showed those messages to The Seattle Times.
“Genius, great way to meet a girl, use my girls lol,” he wrote in another text, patting himself on the back for the scavenger hunt.
“Are you single? Or am I wasting my time,” he wrote in another message.
At first, Aagard said, “I was a little bit flattered” by the attention.
But as she thought more about it, she began to see the dozens of messages differently. When she asked him to send her a photo, he joked and stalled.
“Hahaha. Pics coming child,” he wrote.
Child? Aagard was taken aback.
“Figure of speech loser,” he wrote.
Ultimately, he suggested she join him at a bar. The two never met. But later that evening, as she told a friend what happened, she began to feel like the whole thing was creepy.
Aagard was uncomfortable enough with the situation that she and her friend decided to tell the school.”Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention,” principal Brian Vance wrote in an email. He promised to “follow up on our end immediately.”
By Monday, Hennum learned he was under investigation. That’s when he left Aagard a voicemail.
“I wanted to apologize to you and get on the same page if possible,” said his message, which Aagard played for The Times. “Hopefully we can get on the same page.”
Aagard later found a Times story about Hennum being investigated at nearby Lake Washington School District for allegedly sending inappropriate texts. At that time, an athlete reported that while the team was at a hotel, Hennum and another athlete exchanged a flurry of texts late at night. He later admitted suggesting the athlete meet him alone, but said he was just trying to reach out to the girl, who was having some personal problems, according to the investigative file.
The messages violated school policy, but he was not disciplined. The district did not renew his contract.
Putting it all together, Aagard is uncomfortable.
“There’s so much wrong with the picture,” she said.