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Hutch Tech football players talking about boycotting season because of coach dispute

Eileen Buckley

The continuing fight over how Buffalo Public School teachers become coaches is colliding with football players at one of the city's top schools.

It is a three-way fight among the Buffalo School Board, the Buffalo Teachers Federation and community activists who want coaches chosen as coaches. There would be more of that in a deal between the board and the teachers union, but it has been stalled because there was not a quorum when the union's legislative body met.

The issue is expected to resurface after summer vacation - although if it is approved, it is not clear when it would take effect.

Monday night at the Rafi Greene Center, activists involved with the situation at Hutchinson Central Technical High School called a meeting to talk about the football team's new coach. Offensive assistant coach Erik Coark is not happy.

"I have two teenage boys who are about to play football next season. Do I really want my kids playing for public schools in the district, knowing that at any given time their coaches can be snatched away and somebody's new in there?" Coark asked. "You know what I'm saying? As a parent, do I really want that for my kids? You see what I'm saying. Like, I'm not seeing it from a coach's aspect, just from being a parent."

What happened was an existing coach at Hutch Tech was pushed out of the head coach role when a teacher with more seniority, Tony Trulizio, transferred in from Riverside Institute of Technology. Trulizio had been a winning head coach at Riverside and took the football head coach job at Hutch Tech.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

That is allowed under the current BTF contract, although it might not be under the proposed deal, which involves broad-based hiring committees for coaches. Hutch Tech Football players are very unhappy because they liked former head coach Nick Todaro.

Xavion White-Baines, a City Honors student playing football for Hutch-Tech, said he did not pick his coach.
"I got the schooling. My football career is like, they're playing with it and I have no say," White-Baines said. "I think I want to go D-3, D-3, D-2. I've already got offers and this is like changing everything I know, right before the most important years."

"They care about my academics and they care about my athletics," said linebacker and tight end Kenneth Jacobs about his former coaching staff. "I broke my wrist and my coaches were really there for me. How can the board take that away from me? That's messed up. No offense to person, like I don't have a connection with him like that. He wasn't there like these coaches was."

The Hutch Tech junior wants an athletic scholarship for college, but the fight over the head coach is potentially interfering, particularly with some players talking about boycotting the season. Activist Duncan Kirkwood, who called the meeting, asked the players to play and not boycott, while waiting to see what happens to the proposed deal between the union and the district.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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