Note: This column published last week. I wanted to throw it on here and give you a chance to share your opinion, too.
MIGUEL MELENDEZ COLUMN
This column appeared on Page 3B of the Star-News sports section on Friday, March 26
I’m a firm believer of giving credit where credit is due.
It was in this space not too long ago when I was critical of the handling and lack of transparency in the firing of Randy Backus as football coach at Temple City High School.
There was also the seemingly nonchalant attitude for hiring a football coach at Pasadena High after Kevin Mills resigned in November.
Was I harsh?
That much I told Temple City athletic director John Van De Veere, Temple City Principal Mary Jo Fosselman-King as well as Pasadena High Principal Derek Evans.
I grilled Van De Veere.
I grilled Fosselman-King.
I grilled Evans.
At the end of each interview, I wanted each of them to know where I was coming from.
I know the questions may have been tough and I understand it’s your job to look out for the school’s best interest and follow guidelines, but I hope you understand it’s my job as a reporter to ask you these questions.
Some coaches and readers privately have said to me I’m one of the more controversial reporters to write in these pages.
Clearly, I disagree.
What I feel I’ve done is shed light, ask that there be transparency and raise questions when nobody else will. You probably wonder if the press serves a legitimate role in checks and balances. You can argue yes and you can argue no, but I’m in the business of keeping readers informed. I’ll ask the tough questions and channel the access provided to me as a reporter otherwise not available to the reader.
That, I feel, is what the best reporters do.
In becoming a surrogate for the reader, I may have pushed some buttons in my short tenure here at the Star-News but that’s the price I had to pay to get the story. It is my hope the people involved never took it personal. After all, we’re talking about high school sports, right?
Having said that, the people involved were not students but administrators in some capacity at their respective schools. I understand I’ll have to continue working with them since it’s my plan to become a staple within the community, and believe me when I say I’m not going anywhere despite recent offers.
For what it’s worth, Temple City and Pasadena high schools deserve high praise.
Yes, it took them longer than any other school with football coaching vacancies this season (La Ca ada and Duarte filled them quickly) but the tenuous process now proves to have been overly justified.
Kudos to the Temple City Unified School District, assistant superintendent Karen Reed, Fosselman-King, Van De Veere, the coaches involved in the hiring panels and others who played a role in the hiring process that led to Anthony White being named the next Rams football coach.
Kudos to Dr. Derek Evans, who spearheaded the efforts that ultimately led to the hiring of Mike McFarland as Pasadena’s next coach.
Within a week’s span, both schools restored confidence when it was seemingly lost in the eyes of boosters and fans alike.
I know, hiring a football coach is not exactly the primary agenda as school districts across the country face budget cuts and teachers unceremoniously are shown the door.
But during the economic meltdown last year, which if you remember hit hardest late in the season, Friday nights were when we could forget about this seemingly bed-ridden economy and escape it, even if for only a few hours.
Already, White rolled up his sleeves, threw on a hard hat, a bright orange vest and quickly put together a high-quality coaching staff.
In a matter of days, White brought excitement back to the community with his sense of urgency and charisma, and it won’t be long before Pasadena’s Mike McFarland gets in the mud, too, already emphasizing academics would be tops on his list.
It took the schools longer than expected to make a selection, but Temple City and Pasadena high schools’ quality selections emphatically trump the prolonged process.
In the past, things may not have gone right. This they got right.
Perhaps it’s time to begin trusting their judgment.
After this, they’ve earned it, and their efforts should be applauded.
(626) 578-6300, Ext. 4485