New London patrons rally in support of football coach
By STEPH TAHTINEN
Mt. Pleasant News
NEW LONDON — It appears that the New London Head Football Coach Darrin Loyd is in hot water with some community members.
While nobody was at the school board meeting on Tuesday night to speak against the coach, there were community members who signed up during open forum to defend him.
“I have never met a coach that puts a team out on the field to lose and just be there for a paycheck, and with rumors and the gossip and everything else going on, in my opinion, if something is significant enough to complain about to somebody else, it’s significant enough to bring to the attention of the coach,” said Mark McSorley. “And if that’s not being done, then it’s a problem with the parents. That’s my opinion.”
McSorley emphasized that the players and coaches need to be supportive of the coach.
“You guys hired him as the coach, you have to support him,” McSorley told the school board. “I think that playing middle man between the parents and the coach is not the place you guys need to be.”
McSorley suggested that at the end of each season the district have a coach’s review for each sport, looking over what went well and what did not. He also stressed that the parents should talk directly with the coach.
Damon Loyd spoke during the open forum stressing the fact that the problem cannot be blamed on just one person.
“We can’t just pin it on one guy,” said Damon Loyd. “Before we hang it on one person’s head and get rid of him, we need to ask ourselves as coaches, as administration, as a community, or even parents, are we giving these kids the best opportunities?”
One point that was brought up by both McSorley and Damon Loyd was that there had not previously been a youth football program in the city and that Darin Loyd started one a few years ago. The current football team had not been through the program.
“A lot of the kids right now that he’s coaching haven’t gone through a youth program. There was no youth program,” said McSorley noting that when his son wanted to play football he had to take him to Mt. Pleasant until Darrin Loyd started a flag football and youth program in New London.
“There was a stint of time for probably at least four years where there was no youth program here for any of the kids,” he continued. “If you look at all the other schools that we compete against, they have youth programs. So, there we’re kind of at a disadvantage.”
Damon Loyd commented that those currently involved in the youth program are great kids and plan to continue.
“He’s building something,” he said. He noted that there were 27 kids out for football this year, and by the time his son is a freshman in two years, if everybody stays out there should be 52 students out for football.
Another difficulty the team has faced has been the athletic facilities, especially as the practice field has been torn up over the past couple of years to install the geothermal system.
“We’ve got to give them the best facilities or the best facilities we can give them, and kudos to you guys because I see the upgrades and we’re doing what we can do with what we’ve got,” said Damon Loyd. “But we’ve got to keep looking at what we can do as a community, as parents, as administration, to do the best job that we can do, and not hang it off one guy.”
School board member Dennis Carter also spoke on behalf of Darrin Loyd during the board report portion of the meeting.
“I want him to coach my kids,” said Carter. “He hasn’t done everything right, nobody does everything right, but he’s trying to make things better. That’s what I feel a head coach should be doing for their program.”
Carter gave some history on Coach Loyd’s time at New London, explaining that before he came to the district, the football team had been partnered with the Danville School District. New London then went on its own for the football program.
“The kids had great success, but through that, our junior high program … suffered. Those are our juniors and seniors now,” he explained.
Carter also referenced the youth program that Loyd started.
“He wanted to create a program that fostered individual success and started a youth program. From that he saw we didn’t go far enough so the next year he started a flag football program on his own,” recalled Carter. “I remember the first day we had practice, he was there with the third and fourth graders, and we introduced him as their future high school coach, because this was their first day of high school football.”
Superintendent Steve McAllister commented during his report that he and activities director Chris Selby have been looking at the entire athletic program.
“Lots of folks have been talking to Chris and I, we’ve had several meetings with the coach, and in the end we want to make sure that we look at the entire program,” said McAllister. He said they are using a thoughtful, careful process to move forward.
“We don’t want to make decisions based on emotions. We want to make decisions based on what we believe is best for kids, best for our school and best for our community,” said McAllister.
In other business, the board:
- Set a closed session for Dec. 5 at 5 p.m.
- Approved the resignation of kitchen worker Marilyn Knox.
- Approved the appointments of Carrie Edwards, kitchen worker; Megan O’Neil, cafeteria custodian; Karen Chiri, part-time custodian; Jacob Hopkins, volunteer wrestling coach; Damon Loyd, volunteer wrestling coach; Mike Richard, volunteer wrestling coach; Joe Garvey, volunteer wrestling coach; and Jesse Howard, volunteer basketball coach.