The Methacton wrestling community came out in droves to the April 15 Methacton School Board meeting, all wearing lime green shirts with “Coach Maida” written across the chest.
Methacton wrestlers, their families, other Methacton coaches, coaches from other schools and a PIAA wrestling referee who lives in the district all came to the meeting to show their support of former Methacton wrestling coach A.J. Maida, whose contract was not renewed for the next season. Maida’s supporters asked the school board to re-evaluate the administration’s decision and reinstate Maida.
Multiple wrestlers, in their statements to the board, recalled moments when Maida influenced them to try their hardest in school first and that success in the classroom trickles into all aspects of life, including athletics.
Current wrestlers were not the only ones to make statements.
Pottsgrove head wrestling coach Jeff Madden, a former wrestler and Methacton graduate, said he came to the meeting on behalf of coaches from other school districts.
“Tonight I am really representing the wrestling coaches of the PAC-10,” Madden said.
Madden went on to say all of the wrestling coaches in the PAC-10 agree that Maida’s wrestlers were always professional, prepared and sportsmanlike.
Other coaches that showed their support for Maida on April 15 included Paul Lepre, Methacton’s football coach, and Perkiomen Valley wrestling coach Tim Walsh.
While coaches might not always get along with referees during athletic competitions, Scott Thorn, a PIAA wrestling official who lives in the district, said his relationship with Maida was nothing but pleasant and professional. Thorn said Maida’s wrestlers conducted themselves in the same manner as their coach.
The comments from the community began to escalate when Bill D’Annunzio, a resident of the district, called shame upon Super- intendent David Zerbe and Methacton Principal Judy Landis for asking Athletic Director Paul Speiwak to speak with wrestlers about not voicing their opinions at the school board meeting.
“How dare you, Mr. Superintendent, tell the children what is in their best interests,” D’Annunzio said, “How dare you, Madam Principal! How dare you ask the athletic director to talk to the students and tell them to not come out and speak out!”
D’Annunzio was interrupted by board Vice President Herbert Rothe telling D’Annunzio his comments would not be tolerated.
“I will not tolerate any derogatory comments towards any member of the administrators or the school board,” Rothe said, though D’Annunzio continued to speak to the applause of the audience.
After D’Annunzio’s words, Rothe requested the audience refrain from making any personal or derogatory comments and to proceed with civility.
John George, another wrestler’s parent, said he not only took issue with the fact that Maida was released, but also the manner in which the administration responded to questions and comments from parents and students.
“Our requests and opinions have gone unheeded. You’re on the school board because you do the right thing and we thank you for it,” George said. “We are asking you to do two things. One is to halt the job offering. The other is to investigate the dismissal for just cause. If none is found, then reinstate coach Maida to end what I’m going to call foolishness.”
Prior the start of public comment, Zerbe issued a statement concerning the April 7 release of Maida’s contract.
The statement indicated the administration will stick by its decision and continue the search for a new head wrestling coach.
“This decision, regardless of its popularity, was made appropriately and communicated directly to each of the stakeholders in a manner appropriate with the privacy rights attributable to the individual in the position, which is similar to any other school-related position,” Zerbe said.
Zerbe said the protests to the decision were misinformed on the entire situation. However, Zerbe indicated, many aspects of the decision cannot be discussed in public due to the laws surrounding school personnel.
“The opening of the head wrestling position has drawn criticism and concern and was met with misinformation,” Zerbe said. “This information either in whole or in part may stem from our inability to address our stakeholders completely to their liking due to our constraints around this matter.”
Zerbe went on to say that any conflict of personality or philosophical differences between Maida and Landis are unfounded and not the reason for opening the position.
Methacton High School wrestlers wear green “Team Maida” T-shirts at the Methacton School Board meeting April 15 in support of the former coach A.J. Maida, whose contract was not renewed.