Coach takes issue with editorial
Your May 11 editorial titled “Eligibility” deftly illustrates the simplistic thought process of those who watch interscholastic sports and therefore feel they know everything about the subject. As someone who has coached at this level for more than 40 years, plus having been an athletic director at a small high school, plus has been a member of several WVSSAC committees and am currently serving on one; please allow me to enlighten you.
First let me state I have no objection with the way a private school conducts their business. They must recruit students on a daily basis in order to survive. For eight years my teams competed against and were in the same conference as Parkersburg Catholic High School. For more than 35 years, my teams have continued to play Notre Dame High School of Clarksburg and have occasionally played Trinity Christian of Morgantown since their inception, and we have felt welcomed and appreciated at both schools. I think I understand them and their methods of existence.
What bothers me are people such as this “anonymous” editor dismissing the Public Single A schools of West Virginia as wanting to “eliminate challenging competition,” inferring that private schools and public schools are on equal footing. Apparently the editor chooses to ignore the fact that the private schools themselves advertise their advantages over public schools to influence potential student recruits. Just the fact that the private schools exist only in the high density populated areas of our state inherently grants them advantages that our rural public schools cannot equal.
West Virginia is one of the few states in the nation that do not modify rules in some fashion in attempt to equalize competition between the private and public institutions. The West Virginia Secondary Schools Athletic Commission (WVSSAC), comprised of school administrators from all three classes of both the private and public schools of the state, voted overwhelmingly (more than 80 percent) this year to support the proposal to put the private schools back into their own classification for the end of season tournaments, a situation they were in about 40-50 years ago. I would allow that these school administrators from all classes of West Virginia athletics may understand the situation better than your editor.
Your editor admits that “the church-affiliated schools have claimed a number of state championships far out of proportion to their number.” Again the editor infers that it must be through superior coaching or hard work that these private schools succeed. If that were true, then a Bob Huggins coached team should be in the national championships every year, when we all realize that recruiting the best talent is the most reliable method to win, probably even your editor would admit that. Plus I would challenge any team to show me that they out-worked a Tom Gutshall-coached team from Tucker County; yet even they could not win a state championship when competing against the advantages of the private schools.
Your job as a newspaper should be to report the facts, then state an educated opinion if you feel the need. Your editor has chosen the easy path of running on emotion instead of facts and using his weapon of journalism to try to influence your readers and to call on the West Virginia State BOE to deny a proposal overwhelmingly passed by the people who work each day for the students of this great state. That is either an abuse of your power or laziness. You choose.
Coach Tom Wamsley