RICH THOMASELLI COMMENTARY: It’s shameful how the Ketcham football saga has played out, especially when it’s always the kids who get hurt
- Updated: June 22, 2014
It’s shameful how the Roy C. Ketcham High School football saga has played out, and that’s the kindest word I can think of.
Disgusting is a good word, though.
Only now, after media coverage of the blatant disregard for the players has come out, after parents took matters into their own hands and all but shamed the administration at Monday’s Wappingers Central School Board meeting, has movement begun to take place.
To recap (follow the bouncing football):
* Ketcham goes 7-2 last fall and wins the league championship, advancing to the Section One, Class AA semifinals.
* Pat Keevins resigns as head coach at the end of January, saying he wants to pursue a career in athletic administration. But he winds up on Poughkeepsie coach John Castellano’s staff in April.
* HVSR first reports in April that Wappingers Athletic Coordinator Kurt Jesman has narrowed his search and the two leading candidates are Arlington assistant Mike Lindberg and former Poughkeepsie coach Ken Barger.
* Barger is in the midst of more than a dozen hearings before the state education office for alleging giving ‘special accommodations’ to students who took the NYS Regents exams in 2012.
* It becomes painfully obvious that Ketcham wants Barger as it keeps delaying a decision for months, waiting for a resolution to his case. In the meantime, last week Lindberg withdraws his name from consideration. Only, HVSR has learned that neither Jesman nor any other WCSD administrator has returned his call so he can formally withdraw.
* The assistant coaches, who ostensibly could run workouts, are nowhere to be found. Casey Lorenz went to join Keevins in Poughkeepsie, Mike Bianco went to Spackenkill, and Bryan Hogan and his wife just had a baby, so his level of engagement has decreased dramatically.
* And the players wait. And wait. And wait. They cannot use the weight room, as the gym is under renovation. And without a coach, they can’t attend any preseason camps.
The shameful part of it is, it appears nobody cares. I talked to three high school coaches in the area who all said the same thing. If the Indians don’t start their conditioning and lifting by the end of the month, not only will they be woefully behind other schools – and frankly, they already are – but with practice beginning on August 18 and games starting three weeks after, it becomes a safety and health issue.
Which is why the parents rightfully got involved the other night.
“My point was to just to let them know what we are aware of what’s going on as parents. They haven’t had to answer to anyone and now they do,” said Glen Dockery, president of the Wappingers Indians youth football program and the father of two Ketcham football players. “They need to know the parents are engaged and we need to see some results.”
Perhaps this will all play itself out, maybe even as early as today. Barger has yet another hearing, at Noon in Poughkeepsie, to discuss his case. Perhaps it will bring resolution. Perhaps it won’t. And make no mistake, you’re reading the words of a HUGE Ken Barger fan. Nothing would please me more than to see him take over RCK. But you can’t wait forever.
To say this has been handled poorly is an understatement. To say it has been handled recklessly would be more apt. Simply put, Wappingers is a mess and has been for a long time. He wouldn’t admit it, but why do you think Matt Cameron, who left Poughkeepsie as AD a couple of years ago to go to Wappingers, made a bee-line back to Pougkeepsie?
In an article HVSR printed on Monday, one parent called the situation “a ****storm.” Well, if we’re going to throw around curse words, here’s a good one for WCSD administrators, outgoing Superintendent Marco Pochintesta and the school board: S**t or get off the pot.
Every day that these boys can’t get on a playing field to learn the offense, or go to a camp to compete against their peers in preseason play, or go through a designed weight training session, or have a coach make college calls for them, is a day wasted.
We’re well beyond the situation being “fluid and complicated,” as Dockery said Pochintesta told him.
The situation – and this is not hyperbole – is actually perilously close to dangerous and maybe even to the point where Ketcham petitions Section One to have its players play for inter-district school John Jay.
But that option is highly unlikely.
The bottom line is, Ketcham needs a coach. Now. To continue waiting is shameful.