I’d be lying if I said a recent message posted on the sign of a local church supporting a Waxahachie football coach didn’t bother me. It does bother me — in more ways than one.
The message, while describing the purpose of all churches with respect to praying for others, is out of line and should have never been posted. Before going hell, fire and brimstone on me though, please hear me out.
At a glance, the message is rather innocuous. On closer scrutiny, however, the message is, pardon the pun, a sign of something more troubling.
To begin with, there are more than 500 teachers and 1,000 staff members in the district. Those numbers obviously don’t include countless former teachers and coaches who’ve served in the district throughout the years or the 8,000-plus WISD students.
One can begin to see how singling out one person for prayers is a bit odd.
I don’t recall a sign at the church espousing oh say a third-grade teacher or the band director or those giving of themselves to develop special needs children. Wonder why?
What’s equally troubling is that most teachers, administrators and coaches I know in the district are those committed to developing smart, quality young people who will go as far in life as their determination will take them. The same can be said for most past teachers, coaches and administrators, as well. While I don’t see a problem with a coach publicizing or even marketing his or her approach, desire to lead kids and love for God, I do have a problem with a school board trustee indiscriminately fawning over it. There’s nothing inherently wrong with establishing acronyms and benchmarks and labels designed to characterize a program’s philosophy, but there is something wrong with the inference that developing kids effectively is unique to a coach or somehow absent from prior programs. Frankly, I find it insulting to those who’ve actually been quietly developing quality young people all along, some for decades. That a school board trustee or two would advance such an inference doesn’t comport with the role a trustee has.
I’ll never forget those who made lasting impressions on me as I walked the awkward, fragile road of pre-teen and teenage years. In fourth grade, it was Mrs. Perkins. In college, it was my coach, Coach Flint. Both were quiet, thoughtful and deliberate in their commitment to develop young people. Mrs. Perkins taught more than reading and math and Coach Flint taught far more than how to play basketball. Both made a powerful and lasting difference in my life.
Jon Kitna will have young people say the same of him and so will Rich Armstrong, Sandy Faussett, Greg Gober and Micah Fletcher, among many others in the district, past and present. I wonder if the pastor plans to post sign messages for them … not that they want, have asked for or need one.
And call me crazy, but I can only wonder why there hasn’t been a sign for Micah Fletcher. It is, after all, the issues between Jon Kitna and Micah Fletcher that compelled the sign message to appear in the first place. Surely the pastor and his church are willing to pray for Mr. Fletcher, a two-tour veteran, well-liked and respected coach who I’m certain is as passionate as anyone about developing ‘REAL’ men and women.
My hope is that there won’t be any more ISD issues related to Coach Kitna or any other coach. Should there be, however, two current school board trustees will be asked, and likely required, to recuse themselves from all aspects of the issue. Whether it involves Micah Fletcher or any other ISD employee, these two trustees have placed their own ability to be fair and equitable in question when it comes to the coach. I get friendships, but I don’t get the willingness to let friendship determine a position one takes regarding right, wrong and fairness.
The other hope I have is that this nonsense will go away. The element of politics in Waxahachie has far exceeded the need and the silly games that exist are beneath the kind of community this is.
I say to the coach — just go coach, lead and win. I say to school board trustees — place your oath to serve the district above politics and the need to side with this coach or that one. I say to any pastor who chooses to use his church sign to tell the rest of us who his congregation is praying for to realize that, as God tells us, praying for those we may not like or who may have a dispute with a friend is not only the calling of a Christian, it is a command.
Most of all, I say we pray for communal harmony, for putting others first, for being real and for the commitment to purge politics from our community.
Come to think of it, that sounds like a pretty good sign message to me.