What a welcome to Decatur for Nate Andrews, and his family, received Tuesday night when he attended the North Adams School Board meeting. Wow!
I wish I could say I was surprised. The way things have gone for this school board, something like this was almost predictable.
It was supposed to be a big night for Nate, who was to have his picture taken as the next head football coach at Bellmont High School. Somehow, he was drawn to this job, this community. He was drawn enough to leave a place that has been a happy home for him and his family for four years. He has kids that he loves and hates to leave. He has a program he brought up to a high standard, winning a sectional. His wife had a full-time teaching job, which she would not have in Decatur. He made the Lapel wrestling program matter, raising it to 30 grapplers from five.
He was leaving all of that, and maybe 40K a year, to come to Decatur, to be a football coach to many, and a weight and conditioning coach to athletes in all other sports, and a mentor and friend to many more. This quality man was ready to jump in and give his all, and add to the greatness of sports in Decatur, at Bellmont High, and his goodness to the equation of our community. And how could you keep him out of the wrestling room? A quality guy and a former state champ ... well, he would fit perfectly with the best wrestling staff in the state.
I can't think of a better fit. I can't believe Bellmont could get a better guy. This man could bring Bellmont football right back. He's a builder and a grower. What a perfect choice by our administrators!
And he came to Decatur looking for a sign, something which would tell him his very difficult choice to come to Adams County was the right one.
Now .... after his credentials being questioned, and the 3-2 vote ... I just hope, somehow, he finds a way to look past all of that and come on in. If Nate Andrews backs out — and absolutely no one here or anywhere could blame him — it will be a huge setback for Bellmont football and for Bellmont sports in general. It's something that will be very difficult to recover from. Maybe impossible.
Thanks to the board action, the damage it did on Tuesday may be irreparable.
Since that fiasco, which again puts Decatur on the state map for the wrong reason, a lot of area men have reached out to Nate, including a friend of Nate's at Ball State, Steve Schumm, who was looking forward to coaching with Andrews here. Maybe those contacts were the positive sign Andrews was hoping for on Tuesday.
Those two who voted NO on Andrews are obviously agenda driven, though figuring out Michelle Stimpson's agenda is a bit harder. Basically, it seems she votes NO. She voted against Dale Manis as Athletic Director, thinking that would be a position to eliminate!
Deb Bergman ... what is Deb Bergman, wife of the coach that quit and started this whole chain of ridiculous events, doing even voting on this matter? She should have disqualified herself.
It could be that these two either want to control things, like being in on interviews, or to run off some very talented administrators. There have been administrators in the past at BHS who needed to move on. They did. They guys we have now — Scot Croner, Dale Manis, Aaron Baker, and Superintendant Wiley Sirk — get very good grades from me.
After talking with them, it is obvious to me that they are not ready to hand over their keys and head for the exit.
Toney Bergman was upset with his teaching assignment. He got mad and quit. He's gone, and unless they get rid of the current administration, he's not coming back.
Ironically, one of the items that was a complaint of Stimpson at the meeting was the fact that Andrews would have to take a "practice" test to gain the history credential he needed. Toney Bergman did not have his credential to teach health, and put it off for years before getting it, with some prodding.
Bellmont has won a state title in football. We know it can be done. If it can be done, Nate Andrews, the former state wrestling champ, can do it. We have the people here, the tradition of excellence, that make it possible.
I'm betting that Andrews is a tough guy, that he's come through the smoky maze before and emerged with a successful nod.
I'm still hoping he's buying Decatur, and Bellmont High. We need him!