Parents and players rallied around the Columbiana coach, who will return.
By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
COLUMBIANA -- When the Columbiana High baseball team takes the field this spring, long-time coach Bruce Wolfe will be there, after all.
The Village schools board of education on Wednesday awarded Wolfe the $2,080 supplemental contract as varsity coach.
In November the board chose not to renew Wolfe's contract, resulting in intense lobbying by players and parents.
On his side: Players circulated a petition and presented it to the board. Many players and parents attended the December board meeting and several spoke in support of Wolfe, urging the board to reconsider.
Drew Bland, a junior, and Josh Kistler, a senior, told the board in December that the players know what's best for the team, and they wanted Wolfe to be their coach. Kistler said seniors in particular were upset about the prospect of Wolfe not leading them in their final season.
Bland spoke of the reputation of the team under Wolfe's leadership, including that many players from other schools in the Tri-County League attend the Clippers' annual instructional clinic.
Outside Wednesday's meeting after the vote, parents and players rallied around Wolfe.
"After that we only have two words," one said. "Play ball."
Wolfe thanked players and parents for their tremendous support. He said not knowing for two months whether he'd be coaching slowed winter planning such as ordering equipment.
He said although individual players didn't stop conditioning, the team's overall winter workout is about three weeks behind schedule. Assembling a coaching staff is the next item on his agenda.
Filling the roles: Wolfe said the team lost two key players to graduation, but he has senior leadership, a good core of juniors and sophomores ready to step up and help the team.
"The players have been working out all along and there's a lot of excitement about the season," he said. "There's no doubt in my mind that when the time comes, we'll be there."
After the meeting, board member David Dale said the players letting their feelings be known changed his mind.
"The support of the players seemed overwhelming," Dale said. "We appreciate that parents and players verbalized their support on his behalf. They helped the board make a good decision."
Wolfe, who teaches high school math, is in his 16th year in the district and has been varsity baseball coach for 12 seasons. His teams have won nine Tri-County League titles.