Blogs > The Best of Don Seeley's Columns

Former Mercury sports editor Don Seeley passed away in June 2013 from a heart attack. For more than a decade Seeley wrote about local sports. Featured here are his columns that were previously printed in The Mercury.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

OJR board keeps all 7 coaches

This story originally ran in the June 30 edition of the Mercury.

BUCKTOWN —- The surprise play so many expected if not feared the Owen J. Roberts School Board would make never materialized.

At least not during Monday night’s special meeting of the board in the high school’s auditorium.

The board unanimously approved the seven fall sports head coaches as well as their assistants and entire middle school coaching staffs — 34 coaches overall.

The 9-0 vote drew a resounding applause from the crowd, which filled the 1,050-seat auditorium and included close to another 100 or so students and adults standing in the doorways and hallway.

Though most of the crowd was there to protest last week’s controversial firing of Superintendent Dr. Myra Forrest, there were a good number of supporters of the fall sports coaches — as well as a lot of the coaches themselves — in attendance.

Nearly two weeks ago, during a monthly work session, the school board approved the recommended list of fall sports coaches to be put on the agenda for the June 22 regular monthly meeting. The vote was 7-0. Edward Kerner and Debbie Bissland, the board’s president and vice president, respectively, were absent.

However, the list never made it on the agenda for the meeting.

According to two sources, the list was removed from the agenda a couple of days later by Bissland — chairperson of the Extracurricular and Interscholastic Activities Committee.

Bissland, who earlier in the evening during board committee reports said she “had nothing to report at this time,” didn’t explain why the list was pulled from the agenda despite questions and comments from fellow board members Barbara McMeekin, William LaCoff and Rosemary Bilinski, as well as a number of people attending the meeting.

McMeekin was very upset June 22 by the turn of events, asking how an issue could be approved to be added to the agenda by the majority of their board — or, in this instance, all seven of the board members present — and then removed from the agenda by “one or two” board members.

So it was no surprise that McMeekin was the first to speak Monday night after the motion to approve the list of fall sports coaches was made and seconded.

“I just hope this board is going to approve this (motion),” McMeekin said.

They did.

Quickly, too.

That means Owen J. Roberts High School will have its entire staff of head coaches back again in the fall. They are Tom Barr (football); Clarence Jannelle (field hockey); Joe Margusity (girls soccer); Dave Michael (cross country); Dave Rhen (boys soccer); Ted Snyder (golf); and Jerry Styer (girls tennis) — each of whom has lengthy terms of coaching service at OJR.

Barr, who guided the Wildcats to their first appearance in the District 1-Class AAA football playoffs and their first postseason win, returns for his 13th season. Jannelle, who has led the field hockey program to four straight District 1-AAAA playoff appearances, returns for his seventh season.

Margusity, unquestionably one of the most respected soccer coaches in Southeast Pennsylvania and throughout the state, and who owns more than 280 career wins -- including the school’s only state title (2005) -- returns for his 14th season.

Michael, a pillar in the cross country and track community and known as one of the district’s most devoted coaches, returns for his 32nd year. Rhen, who has guided the Wildcats to three straight Pioneer Athletic Conference boys soccer titles and six overall, returns for his 27th season.

Snyder, the only golf coach in the league to lead his team to four straight PAC-10 Final Four Tournaments, returns for his eighth season. And Styer, who has turned the girls tennis program around and led his last two teams to undefeated PAC-10 championship runs, returns for his 11th season.

“It would have been nice to have had all this done last week, but it’s over and done with now,” said a coach Monday night, asking to remain anonymous. “Some of us were worried because we just didn’t know what was going on. It’s time to move on ... time to focus our attention on our student-athletes and our teams.”



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