George School football program on the verge of shutting down; parents and students speak out

When Joe King met with George School’s football group, the defensive coordinator might see the frustration and confusion in the faces of the gamers who had simply discovered out their highschool program may very well be on the verge of shutting down.

“My message to them has been chill out, keep assured, and proceed to work out,” King instructed The Inquirer. “I’m extra involved about their mindset, as a result of once they heard this, instantly they’d an empty feeling that they are being given up on.”

The non-public Quaker boarding college in Middletown Township despatched out a letter to the George School Community final month, indicating it’s contemplating making the football program an eight-man program or utterly eliminating it on account of pupil well being and security issues.

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The college has operated a varsity football group since 1923. This 12 months would mark the one hundredth anniversary. Since the announcement, parents, alumni, and students have rallied collectively, writing letters to the administration and asking the group to signal a petition for George School to stay an 11-on-11 football group.

Recently, gamers held a gathering with head of college Sam Houser and director of athletics Kurt Ruch, together with different workers members, together with King. It was a chance for gamers to make their case for why the program ought to proceed.

“We are grateful for the enter shared by our households, school, and alumni on this course of,” the college mentioned in a press release. “Any determination about transfer ahead will likely be made with the finest pursuits of our present gamers, households, and coaches at the forefront, whereas additionally recognizing George School football’s wealthy historical past and affect on college tradition.”

Former coach Dom Gregorio, who declined to be interviewed for this story, resigned from his place Dec. 13 when the preliminary announcement got here out from the college’s administration about the state of the football program.

Gregorio led the group for 3 years. Following the Cougars’ 4-6 season, King mentioned he felt Gregorio would not be returning for a fourth.

“I felt that possibly he tried his finest and he felt that he could not accomplish what he had deliberate,” King mentioned.

But King, who resides in Doylestown and has been teaching for greater than 20 years, making stints at Central Bucks West and East, was stunned by how the college dealt with Gregorio’s departure.

“They went proper from his resignation to presenting a letter saying that we do not have sufficient gamers for football,” King mentioned. “I used to be very confused at that time. Why would not they reassess the program and attempt to rent a brand new coach and then go from there?”

The letter from Houser and Ruch learn: “Coach Dom knowledgeable us that he can now not lead the football program because it exists on account of issues for the security of our student-athletes. Injuries ensuing from a scarcity of depth in our roster triggered important challenges this season.”

Gregorio, a former defensive coordinator at Abington and Bishop McDevitt, instructed the Bucks County Courier Times on Dec. 19 that he would solely have 15 gamers returning subsequent season and instructed directors he wanted 19 extra, some of whom needs to be scholarship gamers.

However, investing in a full football group, George School’s Board of Trustees mentioned, would require a big roster improve and an funding in monetary help that may alter the distribution of funding to different applications.

Parents are angered by the administration’s determination of solely contemplating two choices — transitioning to eight-man football or not having a program subsequent 12 months. Yardley resident Rachel Renshaw, whose son is a junior cornerback, believes there is a lack of communication between the athletes and the college’s management.

“This isn’t just a few sport, that is about the way it impacts their academic pursuits,” Renshaw mentioned. “Football offers them an opportunity to go out and play a sport, whether or not they win, it isn’t necessary… The significance is that they’ll play the sport they love.”

Renshaw wished to verify the gamers’ voices have been heard. She, together with different parents, helped unfold consciousness on Facebook and Instagram to the alumni and the Bucks County group about the Cougars program.

The varsity football group additionally despatched a letter addressed to the administration, board of trustees, and Ruch, expressing these issues about not being consulted in the decision-making course of.

“We have sufficient returning gamers and inside from former gamers and new students to have a aggressive 11-man football group subsequent season,” the group’s letter mentioned. “We don’t have to recruit greater than two or three gamers to securely area a group. We know that the college can do this, because it has carried out it for football in the previous and continues to do it for different sports activities.”

If George School, which competes in the Bicentennial Athletic League, have been to turn out to be an eight-man program, it could be a part of the Keystone League, which is made up of groups from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, and Virginia.

Four colleges in Pennsylvania performed eight-man football this previous season, together with Perkiomen School, Valley Forge Military Academy, Delco Christian, and Mercersburg Academy. The students emphasised to the administration that of the seven groups in the league, none are inside a driving distance of half-hour. Only three colleges are about an hour away.

While the administration has but to make a last determination, a Jan. 12 e-mail from the college indicated {that a} willpower will likely be made no later than the finish of the month.

“After the assembly, we’re very optimistic,” King mentioned. “We’re making an attempt to take away any negativity that was half of the program in the previous. Remove all that negativity into positivity. My message to the youngsters is that we’ll proceed to work.”

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