This is getting serious, Aram reports that Blair is struggling to field a football team by opening night

By Aram Tolegian, staff writer

In six weeks, the Blair High School football team is scheduled to play its first game of the season. But for some players and their parents, it’s hard to imagine that day will ever come.

While most area teams are concluding their summer preparations, which include practices, passing tournaments and linemen competitions, Blair is a program without a head coach and the team, what’s left of it, has not had an organized practice since early June. The Vikings are scheduled to open the season on Aug. 24 against Hoover.

“Most of the parents have said ‘This is crazy. This is ridiculous. We’re going to pull our kids and take them somewhere else,'” said Carl McClain, whose son Logan was an all-Rio Hondo League defensive end last season as a junior and is still holding out hope something will happen.

“The main players, the majority of them, have left. They’re gone. If my son was in the 10th grade, that would be no problem for us to pick up and go somewhere else, but he’s a senior.

“I shouldn’t have to move my son out of the city of Pasadena so he can go somewhere else to play. He’s a senior. I shouldn’t have to pull money out of my pocket so my son can play somewhere. That’s not fair.”

Blair was coached last season by Gary Parks, who resigned this past offseason after four years at the school. Blair started last season with 22 players on its roster, but Logan McClain estimated that the team had just 12 players when the season ended.

After Parks left, the school began its search for a replacement in April, according to Pasadena Unified School District board president Renatta Cooper.

The school’s first choice was hired but quickly quit due to a lack of equipment and poor facilities, according to Cooper. The school was not able to hire its second choice, who turned the job down because no teaching position was offered. A third choice was preliminarily hired, but failed a background check and was let go.

“The position has been re-flown and it’s my understanding that they’re going to be interviewing again Thursday,” Cooper said on Wednesday. “What more can they do? They had to re-fly the position. It is unfortunate that they were not able to secure the services of a coach. They began the process early enough to have this taken care of.”

“I believe that everything that can be done is being done. I believe they started the process early enough to not have this problem. You would think out of your three top candidates, you would be to secure the services of any of them. Especially when you started in April.”

With no coach and no organized practices, the player pool has subsequently dwindled. In the meantime, parents like McClain are frustrated by the lack of action and answers from Blair principal Trudell Skinner and athletic director Saul Rico.

The closest Blair’s players have come to some form of practice is an open weight room that the school has provided for another program not related to football, according to Logan McClain. So instead, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound college prospect has mostly worked out at home.

Another problem standing in Blair’s way is that even when a new football coach is hired, it’s questionable that there will be enough players to field a starting 11. Logan McClain estimates through his own correspondence with classmates that only eight players remain in the program. Blair will also welcome in a new freshmen class later this summer, but getting those players ready for any level of football competition will be an uphill battle even if a coach is named soon.

The CIF-Southern Section requires teams to have 14 practices before it plays its first game. Each individual student must have had at least 10 practices before being allowed to compete in a game.

With time running out, Blair needs to act fast in getting both a coach and enough players to field a varsity football team. Despite the concerns of many, school officials aren’t ready to pull the plug on the season.

“I’m confident that they’re doing the best they can,” Cooper said. “Are they in danger of forfeiting their games and not having a team? I spoke to the principal and she didn’t seem to feel that. She didn’t express that level of concern. She feels that they’re going to get this taken care of and I’m going to take her opinion.”

Meanwhile, the McClains are left to wonder whether they should trust the school or scramble and figure out Plan B before it’s too late.

“He wants to play at Blair,” Carl McClain said of his son. “He says ‘Dad, I want to finish what I started’ and that’s understandable. He says ‘Dad I want to graduate with the kids I went to junior high school with’.

“But I told him that if you want to play football and this is what you want to do, you may have to give all that up and go somewhere else.”

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  • Sad days

    It’s sad to watch what’s happening with the Pasadena public schools. It doesn’t happen in South Pasadena or San Marino because the leaders of those communities have their kids in public schools and why not, the leaders make sure they’re great public schools because their kids go there. Not so in Pasadena. You think the leaders of this community have their kids at Muir, PHS or Blair? That’s the problem, their kids are at La Salle, St. Francis, Pasadena Poly, Maranatha, Alverno, Mayfield or Westridge, and don’t give a damn about the public school kids.

  • SOOOO Trrrruuuueeee!!!!

    Most of the principals, District Board, etc their kids aren’t students in the district. I love my city & district but the powers that be have no vested interest in the district bcuz their kids are in Private school!!!!

  • Green pastures aka “El Gato Monte”

    Wow, how can you send your kids to private schools because the schools you work for or at is not good. But your the reason why the schools are not good. They should be fired.

  • Government Schools

    Let’s stop calling these “public schools”, and instead call it like it is: they’re GOVERNMENT schools. They are staffed and operated with the same level of concern as all the other failed state enterprises. When the Blair principal cooly states that this football thing will work out, it sounds exactly like a career politician spewing lies for their own benefit.

  • Phillip

    Shame. From CIF champions in its early years to being unable to field team. How things change.

  • Aaron

    In regards to the freshman program…when I was a frosh player at Bonita George King was our coach and he had a teaching position. Although to an extent the frosh coach in under the authority of the head man, to me it seemed like the frosh program was run separately to an extent so a frosh staff that isn’t completely separate for Varsity seems foreign. Guess I was lucky.

  • Oh boy

    AD Rico should be fired with the principal. Investigate why a good coach from out the area wasn’t selected? Told he didn’t fit with the culture of the area. He must have had something, made it to the final three but he wasnt the right culture?

    Kids don’t see the color of a coaches skin, they see a coach that is there for them, there because he wants to help them be better men at the end of there playing days. Sounds to me that these kids would take anyone and that is very sad. Maybe stg54 can say bad things about this program as well?

    Investigate my comment and you will see the error of the Blair admisnstrtstion.

    Good luck parents and players, it isn’t fair….