Zehn­der steps down

Ne­wark foot­ball coach head­ing to Mid­dle­town

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By JON BUZBY [email protected]­mail.com

In an un­ex­pected turn of events, Barry Zehn­der re­signed last week from his teach­ing, coach­ing and ath­letic di­rec­tor po­si­tions at Ne­wark High School and ac­cepted sim­i­lar po­si­tions at Mid­dle­town High.

“Coach Zehn­der did a great job for us as he worked to carry on the proud tra­di­tion of our foot­ball team,” Ne­wark Prin­ci­pal Aaron Selek­man said. “We wish him well as he tran­si­tions to his new role in an­other district.”

Zehn­der, who played at Ne­wark and also served as an as­sis­tant coach there early in his ca­reer, said the de­ci­sion wasn’t an easy one.

“My de­ci­sion to move on was based on a com­bi­na­tion of rea­sons – some are per­sonal, some are pro­fes­sional and some in­flu­enced the de­ci­sion more than oth­ers,” Zehn­der ex­plained. “This was a very hard de­ci­sion. The last sev­eral weeks have been filled with a lot of con­ver­sa­tions and a lot of soul-search­ing. It is al­ways tough to leave some­thing you are so in­volved in, es­pe­cially when my fam­ily and I have been con­nected to Ne­wark High since the 1960s.”

Zehn­der’s record after three sea­sons was 7-23, but be­gin­ning from the day he was hired to re­place long­time coach Butch Simp­son, he em­pha­sized that his goals as the head coach went far beyond wins and losses.

“I am equally proud of each of the off-field ac­com­plish­ments,” said Zehn­der, who also served as ath­letic di­rec­tor from Au­gust 2017 un­til his res­ig­na­tion. “Each task and idea had its own value. Aca­dem­i­cally, I felt the kids ac­cepted our mes­sage and worked hard to be suc­cess­ful in the class­room, proven by the in­creased el­i­gi­bil­ity num­bers and GPAs. In the build­ing, I think our play­ers started to be­come lead­ers in the hall­ways and were try­ing to once again be­come the face of Ne­wark High.

He added that struc­tural and cos­metic re­pairs to The Hive, the weight room and the con­ces­sion stand in­stilled more pride and ben­e­fited the en­tire ath­letic depart­ment. Start­ing the Child­hood Can­cer Game raised sev­eral thou­sands of dol­lars and showed the play­ers the value of help­ing oth­ers.

“None of these [ac­com­plish­ments] would have been pos­si­ble with­out the ef­forts of the play­ers and the coach­ing staff,” he added. “And I would be re­miss if I didn’t men­tion all the hard work Mike Bro­gan puts into the Ne­wark foot­ball pro­gram and its suc­cess.”

Zehn­der’s new role at Mid­dle­town in­cludes teach­ing phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion and coach­ing foot­ball as an as­sis­tant un­der Zach Blum on the staff of one of the state’s most sto­ried and suc­cess­ful pro­grams.

“I had a great ex­pe­ri­ence dur­ing my first coach­ing stint at Mid­dle­town,” Zehn­der re­flected of his ten­ure as a Mid­dle­town as­sis­tant from 2012-15. “I made some re­ally good friends on the staff and I am look­ing for­ward to re­con­nect­ing with them.”

One of those friends is Blum, whom Zehn­der met and quickly de­vel­oped a close re­la­tion­ship with dur­ing his first stint with the Cava­liers.

“Coach Blum and I share a lot of the same per­sonal and coach­ing philoso­phies,” Zehn­der said. “I am cer­tainly look­ing for­ward to work­ing closely with a good friend.”

When Zehn­der served as the de­fen­sive backs coach at Mid­dle­town un­der then­head coach Mark DelPer­cio, Blum was the de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor.

“We are for­tu­nate to have great coaches in place, but when the op­por­tu­nity to re­unite with Coach Zehn­der came up, we jumped at it,” Blum said. “His foot­ball cre­den­tials speak for them­selves. Barry has coached mul­ti­ple po­si­tion groups on both of­fense and de­fense, been a co­or­di­na­tor of all three phases of the game, and has im­proved each pro­gram he has coached.”

Blum said he also looks for­ward to be­ing able to draw from Zehn­der’s head coach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“As ex­cited as we are from a foot­ball stand­point, we are more ex­cited to add a coach with shared val­ues, philoso­phies and mo­ti­va­tions, who we know will have a pos­i­tive im­pact on the lives of our stu­dent-ath­letes,” he said.

When talk­ing about the change in scenery, Zehn­der pointed out a few things that are sim­i­lar be­tween his old and new school.

“Just like Ne­wark, Mid­dle­town is very proud of their [foot­ball] tra­di­tion,” Zehn­der re­marked. “A lot has changed down in the MOT com­mu­nity. The district has tripled in size and the look of the town has changed, and through it all, they have kept their his­tor­i­cal foot­ball pro­gram im­por­tant.”

With the search for a new foot­ball coach and ath­letic di­rec­tor un­der­way, Zehn­der had one fi­nal mes­sage to the Ne­wark com­mu­nity.

“I want to say, ‘Thank you,’ to the Ne­wark com­mu­nity,” he said. “Three years ago, one of my goals was to re­con­nect the pro­gram with the com­mu­nity, and by do­ing so, re­vive the con­nec­tion be­tween the en­tire school and the com­mu­nity. I can’t say enough about the will­ing­ness of the alumni and lo­cal busi­ness own­ers to help sup­port the up­grades in fa­cil­i­ties we have made, sup­port­ing the Alumni Golf Out­ing we started, and spread­ing the word that we were try­ing to do things the right way. I hope the com­mu­nity and alumni know that I gave ev­ery­thing I had to the over­all suc­cess of this pro­gram dur­ing my ten­ure as head coach.”

Yel­low­jacket In­vi­ta­tional

The an­nual Yel­low­jacket In­vi­ta­tional wrestling tour­na­ment fea­tures 21 high school teams in­clud­ing Ne­wark, Chris­tiana, Glas­gow, Car­avel and St. Mark’s. The event takes place to­day and Satur­day at Ne­wark High School. Ad­mis­sion for to­day’s 3 p.m. start is $6 for adults and $3 for stu­dents/kids. Satur­day’s matches be­gin at 8 a.m. with ad­mis­sion fees of $8 and $4. A two-day pass is $12 and $6.


Barry Zehn­der has stepped down as head foot­ball coach at Ne­wark High.

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