Callaghan’s Ousting At Wadsworth Illustrates Disturbing Trend


Wadsworth Basketball
The company line resonates, and don’t blame Wadsworth Administrators. These guys like their jobs, too. And,
judging by their very public salaries, it’s tough to blame them. But Scott Callaghan deserves more than a company line. Just as John Martin deserved more before Callaghan. Contributor Todd Stumpf voices his opinion on the recent dismissal of Wadsworth's boys basketball coach.

The company line resonates, and don’t blame Rich Berlin, Steve Moore or Joe Magnacca for repeating it. These guys like their jobs, too. And, judging by the very public salaries of the Wadsworth school administrators, it’s tough to blame them.

But Scott Callaghan deserves more than a company line. Just as John Martin deserved more before Callaghan.

Few people would endure the level of scrutiny Callaghan has endured and come back for more. But that’s how much Callaghan loves Wadsworth High School and its basketball programs.

Now he’s again an outsider, much as he was three years ago when he was dispatched as the school’s girls coach after five years and a stellar 100-15 record.

Nobody has ever publicly said why he stepped down then – though most around town know – and nobody is saying it now. It just goes back to the company line.

“We’re heading in a different direction.”

It’s what Berlin, Moore and Magnacca — the athletic director, associate principal and principal, respectively, who told Callaghan he was fired – all said. And it’s all they said.

And it’s not a good enough answer.

Callaghan did nothing in his two years as Wadsworth’s boys head coach to not at merit at the very least a third year. His teams didn’t have stellar records, winning 21 games against 26 losses. But they didn’t have stellar players, either.

Most coaches struggle when talent is lacking. Martin, Callaghan’s predecessor, showed what happens when he has good players. Deemed not fit to coach at Wadsworth two years ago after dedicating three decades of his life to the school and community, Martin this year was named Inland District Division II girls coach of the year at Canal Fulton Northwest.

Martin didn’t suddenly remember how to coach. He was blessed with some very good talent on his roster. It’s also worth noting, though, that the guy’s a darn good coach.

But Callaghan’s dismissal, like Martin’s before it, and like Callaghan’s departure from the girls team before that, isn’t about winning and losing. It’s about the way things are in high school athletics these days.

Small factions of parents speak up, coaches are replaced. Administrators and their nearly six-figure salaries keep their jobs by appeasing the vocal few. It’s really that simple.

Don’t believe it? Look at just about any upper-middle-class Suburban School, where this has become a trend worse than trucker hats.

The fashion fad du jour only makes the kids look bad. Removing coaches to soothe the few makes entire districts look bad.

It was a parental lynch mob that led to Callaghan’s resignation as girls coach in 2005. The administration apparently thought Callaghan did such a poor job as girls coach that it punished him by making him coach the boys team – whose coaching opening was created when another small but angry group led to Martin’s ouster.

It’s so much the way of the current atmosphere that, upon being offered the job at Northwest, Martin demanded to know of school board members exactly how they would react upon the inevitable parental whining.

That was a fair question then and it’s fair now.

Because clearly, the administration did not think two years ago that Callaghan was bad for the kids. But now, all of a sudden, a new direction is needed? Something smells funny.

There is a new administration in place. Moore was athletic director when Callaghan was hired. Berlin, Moore’s successor, was the former A.D. and girls basketball coach at Chippewa High School. Magnacca, Wadsworth’s first-year principal after coming from Rittman, also has Wayne County ties.

The dots here aren’t very hard to connect, really, and the pungent odor of parental over-involvement is again wafting through the air in Wadsworth.

Only this time it stinks even more than usual.

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