Parents offer support for football coach

Published 1:58 pm Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Two parents spoke during Wednesday’s meeting of the Buckingham County School Board to offer support for Head Varsity Football Coach Josh Wallace.

“I just wanted to speak today because it’s so much negativity that has been spoken about this year’s football program and its coaches,” Angela Edwards told board members, adding coaches have not been given a “fair chance” this year and noting the loss of coaches and some key players before the season’s first game. “We all knew this year going in it was going to be tough.”

She said the complaints against Wallace “simply do not make any sense” to her.

Email newsletter signup

Support for Wallace comes about a month after 11 people — including parents of Buckingham High School football players — criticized Wallace’s ability and leadership during the school board’s Oct. 12 meeting. Those speakers questioned Wallace’s concern for players’ safety and treatment of students and claimed he shows a lack of support for the team.

The varsity team — led by Wallace and six assistant coaches, only one of whom returned from last season — has seen numerous injuries this year. The Knights prepared for their second game this season with only 13 players healthy enough to be in pads. Having enough players to legitimately scrimmage in practice was also a problem at other times this season. Key seniors were among those sidelined.

The Knights, who finished the year with a 2-8 record, were outscored 373-190 and shut out twice. However, they also exploded for 52 points in a loss to William Campbell High School on Sept. 9, 46 in a win over Nottoway High School on Sept. 16 and finished the season with a gritty 34-28 victory against playoff-bound Prince Edward County High School.

Edwards, whose son plays for Wallace, spoke about parents holding their children accountable for their actions.

“I am a parent of a ninth-grader who has moved up to varsity this year, and I have been in the shoes of just about everybody who has complained and has faced the same issues,” she said, admitting she was “furious” when first hearing about changes to the program. “Then, I realized that there was a reason things were being done the way they were.”

She said it wasn’t Wallace’s fault fewer students wanted to play on the team, nor was it his fault some boys didn’t want to put in the work and commitment it took to be part of the team.

“Come on, really? This was the rule from the beginning … it should have been no surprise,” Edwards said of actions taken by coaches resulting from bad grades and behavior, adding it’s a parent’s responsibility to help keep the student’s grades up. “As a parent, check your child’s grades and do whatever it takes to get them acceptable so that he doesn’t have to sit out. I was raised that I always had to respect my elders and those in authority.”

Lyla Wood, who said she does not have children who play, but does attend many games, also spoke up for Wallace.

“I stand behind the coaches 100 percent. This coach didn’t come here to make Buckingham fail. He wants children to be accountable and responsible. He wants them to be people that are respectable, responsible adults.”

Longtime and beloved coach Craig Gill died after battling cancer this year, creating the vacancy Wallace filled. Gill coached for 20 years in Buckingham.