In high school coaching ranks, there's the matter of black and white


December 09, 1992|By PAT O'MALLEY

While the Jesse Jacksons of the world focus on major-league baseball owners and the Marge Schott types, attention needs to be focused on a similar situation close to home.

Hayse Henderson, the county's only black head football coach, who has, in effect, been fired at Meade High School, makes it clear we need to focus on job discrimination in high schools.

The heavy hitters dwell on the higher levels, where the spotlight is brighter, but the high school level is where lifetime attitudes are developed.

"There is discrimination in the '90s right here in Anne Arundel County," Henderson said yesterday.

Henderson was advised by school officials last week that if he wants to continue as head football coach, he must apply.

Meade plans to advertise the position and interview prospective candidates. Henderson does not plan to be one of them.

He says he suffered a heart attack before the start of the season "worrying about the job, but stayed on the job because my doctor told me I was one of those people who can function with pain." He says he has received little or no support from the administration.

"There is no chance in hell that I would get the job back, so why bother reapplying only to be turned down?" said Henderson, who was 8-22 in three seasons, including 2-8 this fall. But he says he doesn't believe that wins and losses have anything to do with it.

"Over the last 15 years, I've been to six or seven interviews for head football jobs, and it's a terrible experience to be turned down. It hurts me, and I don't want to go through it again. I didn't get the other jobs, and I'm losing this one because I'm black.

"They [Meade officials] don't care who gets the job, as long as it's not me. If the current administration had appointed me, I would still be there. I don't have an athletic director who backs his coaches. If I did, this wouldn't be happening."

Henderson was hired by retired principal James Gross in June1990. Usually principals and athletic directors work together hire coaches, but Gross went solo in naming Henderson. That resulted in the resignation of Butch Young as athletic director.

"Gross wanted a black person, and I know that's why I got the job," Henderson said. "I also felt that I was qualified, but when Gross retired, I lost my support."

Henderson says that from the beginning, the odds were against him with new principal Stan Stawas and athletic director Ralph Beachley.

"I'm sorry he feels that way," said Stawas, former principal at South River who turned down Henderson for Dave Summey several years ago when the Seahawks were looking for a football coach.

"But we sat down and reviewed the program and the concerns we had expressed in conferences we've held with Hayse over the last three years. No. 1, the number of kids who were coming out for a school of our size [1,550 students] was not good.

"The team's spirit or lack of was a concern, and No. 3, parental support was not there. So, we felt we had to look at our options, but I wholeheartedly encouraged Hayse to apply again."

The county is lacking in black head coaches in the major boys sports -- football (none), basketball (only Gerald Moore at Arundel), baseball (only Larry Brogden at Annapolis) and lacrosse (none) -- and has no black athletic directors.

As right as Henderson is on the primary issue -- the lack of blacks in high positions -- he is wrong in the mistakes he made, and he made some big ones.

First, Meade dressed only 19 players on varsity but had 38 on the JV, and Henderson attributes the size of his roster to the county's not subsidizing mandatory physical examinations for athletics and the students' having to travel to Anne Arundel Community College to take them.

"My athletic director wouldn't let me have a bus to take the kids who couldn't get a ride to Anne Arundel," said Henderson.

The fact is, Kimbrough Hospital is right on the base at Fort Meade and physicals were taken there on Tuesdays and Thursdays by most of the fall sports athletes, including most of the 38 JV football players.

Henderson said he had problems with his black players and their parents, which prompted a rash of letters and complaints to the administration. He attributes that to Chuck Markiewicz, the North County coach whom Henderson succeeded at Meade.

"I've had a lot of black kids who either played for Chuck or whosebrothers did, and they would go home and complain to their parents about the way I was doing things," said Henderson.

"The black parents probably won't like me saying this, but they hurt me at home by not supporting me. What was being said in the black households hurt me.

"Chuck doesn't care for me because he wanted Brad Wilson [assistant at North County] to get the job, and Chuck still has a lot of contacts at the school. Just look at what he did to me this season," said Henderson, who pointed to Markiewicz's hiring of one of his assistants, Bob Powell, a couple of days before the start of football practice.

Markiewicz said: "That's totally ridiculous. He took over a relatively successful program, and it hasn't gone well, so he has to blame somebody, and I guess it's me."

Henderson said he held a meeting near the end of the season with only his black players.

"The reason I held the meeting was because I was not getting the support of the black kids, and I told them then I didn't expect to be back," said Henderson. "I felt that if I had been a white coach, the blacks would have played harder for me. I didn't get complaints from the white kids."

Henderson is probably fortunate he wasn't fired for holding such a meeting. What would have happened if the meeting were only with white players?

Henderson said he's "just another guy going down the tubes," but I'm afraid he hurt himself. That's a shame, because we need more black head coaches and athletic directors.

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