Common sense finally washed over the Colton Joint Unified School District at their school board meeting Thursday night, as the CJUSD school board unanimously approved the rehiring of CIF championship coach Rick Bray by a 7-0 count to end what has been a sometimes ugly political soap opera.
“I’m just glad to be back to work,” an emotionally relieved Bray said after the vote was passed. “We are here for the kids and I can’t wait to be their coach again.”
36 hours ago, it looked as if Bray – who led the Yellowjackets to their first CIF-SS title in 32 years in his first season as head coach this fall – might be out of luck. Legendary coach Don Markham, a teacher at Colton High and owner of 309 career wins, was recommended for approval by the board as he filled the qualifications of the Rialto Rule, which gives preference to certificated teachers over walk-on coaches like Bray, who is a security officer at CHS.
But Markham, who was hired for the Compton job two months ago, had a change of heart Wednesday night and withdrew his name Thursday morning after Compton was able to give him a full-time teaching position.
“I applied for the Colton job because I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get a job at Compton,” said Markham, who will be a full-time weightlifting teacher. “But they came through and after thinking about it, I decided to go with Compton. Colton doesn’t really need me and Compton really made me feel that they wanted me.”
Several players, parents and members of the community showed up in support of Bray, although it wasn’t unanimous. The parents of outgoing senior Tyler Ervin criticized Bray in the open discussion part of the meeting for not honoring their son with a plaque at the awards banquet and for not helping him with recruiting, causing assistant coach and Bray’s son, B.J. Bray, to retort angrily.
An emotional B.J. Bray was still stung by the process but happy that his dad was still in charge of the Colton program.
“We do a great thing here and we do it all for the kids,” Bray said. “This isn’t about winning football games. It’s about creating doctors, lawyers, businessmen. The amount of kids going to college in this area is low and we have done everything we can to help every kid in our program get to that point. And we are going to keep doing that until they force us out.”
Look for more on this story in tomorrow’s Sun.