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Back in his job

December 19, 2011
Weirton Daily Times

Congratulations to the Edison Local School Board of Education for its 5-0 vote to retain Mike McKenzie as the Wildcats' head football coach.

It just took too long to do so and the antics involved for the past month can never happen again.

Dear adults, you cannot post someone's job on the OHSAA Web site "just because" you want to see who applies for the job, to see if someone better comes along.

We do a lot of things "just because" but that is not one of them.

You cannot post a job "just because" and ask the current head coach, who, technically still has the job, to continue his life as the head coach - even though you are searching for someone else.

You hung a coach out to dry, so to speak, and, doing what you did, made many coaches in Ohio and surrounding states to wonder about your motivation.

That's never good.

You have a coach who, at one point, had 79 kids in the program.


There are not many high school football programs in the surrounding states who have that many kids out for the program regardless of the size and stature of the program.

I understand not all 79 kids stayed throughout the year, so let's call it at 75.

Let's even call it 70.

How many other football programs in the surrounding area, other than one, finished with 70 kids in pads?

And, that is 70 kids in pads two years removed from McKenzie upping the ante on how each athlete receives their pads. The year he started the program there were 41 kids in the program.

Yeah, a 3-7 season wasn't what anybody wanted - especially McKenzie. Coaches do not bust their humps all year long to go 3-7 during the season.

How about this - everyone get in his corner from the start. Let him know that he's your head coach and there should be no talk of "ifs and buts" after the conclusion of the 2012 season.

This is a coach who represents your school, program and community very well.

He has respect for the kids and they respect him.

He doesn't make excuses and does not allow his players to make excuses.

School board, please understand, this is not all about wins and losses. I know that might be hard to digest for some of you, but when about five percent of the players in the program go on to play in college, there's more to being a head football coach than what happens under the lights during the fall.

I was fortunate to have a lot of comments on my column two weeks ago about letting your light shine.

One coach told me that he talks to his teenagers all the time about who they represent when they are out in public.

One coach told me that sometimes letting her light shine wasn't always the easiest things to do.

Two teachers told me that it's not easy in the classroom when the same children make mistake after mistake, and they start wondering when those same mistakes turns into choices and that the children are just being difficult.

And, after they talk to the parents, they begin to understand the situation a lot better and wonder how they can get through to the children.

I understand all of that.

This is the week when one of two things happen - people roam the malls with tons of patience, or they are on their last nerve.

And, that includes those who are behind the counter.

Whose lights are shining and how brightly are they shining?

Teenagers here two things from adults all the time - "do as I say, not as I do" or "your actions speak louder than your words."

So, which is it?

I listened one day when Stanford quaretrback Andrew Luck was being interviewed by Urban Meyer, when he was still with ESPN.

Luck said a teammate told him - "what you do is so loud I can't hear what you say."

Coaches and teachers don't want to hear you talk because half of what you say will be excuses.

Coaches and teachers want to see what you do - whether it is under pressure, how you act when your team is up or down by 30, you are on the bench and the subs are in or how you react after you know you just bombed the big test.

If you think participating in college sports is in your future, how good you are is not your total package. In fact, your talent is a small part of what coaches are watching.

They want to see, among other things, how your parents interact with other parents, the coaches and the other members of the team. Coaches want to see what you do with your teammates between games. They want to see if you cheer for your teammates or you look like you don't care while you are on the bench.

Coaches want to see how you react to an obvious bad call by an official and how your parents react to that call.

They also want to see how you are with the opposing players during the game in all circumstances.

If you and your parents are high maintenance in all of those subjects, your choices of college options just got a lot smaller.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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