Thomas Jefferson High School fired head football coach Stephen Edwards over a weight room incident which caused assistant coach Gus Cyrus to quit and now the players are threatening to boycott the season, according to Joseph Staszewski of the Community News Group.
“Losing them is like a slap in the face, because these are guys that really give an arm and leg out for all of us,” said junior Jonathan Troche, a running back and team captain on the Orange Wave.
What happened was that Edwards, who coached the team for six years, wasn’t around when junior Christian Valles Rivera chipped his tooth in the weight room. Cyrus was supervising instead, but since Cyrus is not a teacher but a parent coordinator, he is not qualified to supervise and the workout was technically unsanctioned. As a result Edwards was fired by principal James Anderson last May.
Valles Rivera chipped his tooth after he hit his mouth on a bar while spotting a teammate who was working out. Valles Rivera did not initially tell Cyrus that anything was wrong and left only to come back later with his parents who were wondering what had happened. Everyone had realized it was just an accident, but later that week Valles Rivera’s parents filed a report with the school.
“I’ve done nothing wrong,” said Edwards, who unsuccessfully tried to file a grievance with the teacher’s union.
Now the student-athletes are angry. They’ve already staged a 300-kid sit-in outside Anderson’s office in May and now many of them have not been to workouts this summer.
“Most of the captains right now, they are trying to stand strong and miss practice because we want a change,” Trouche said. “If we don’t get a change then I’m sorry. I just can’t play.”
Edwards is credited with helping turn Jefferson’s football program around. It won the Public School Athletic League’s Bowl Division title in 2008 and finished last season with a 6-3 record in the Championship Division. It is expected to open the season on Sept. 7 against Boys and Girls High School. That is if the players are willing to play.