Parents, students turn out in support of volunteer coach
Parents and students filled the Mathews High School media center at Tuesday night’s school board meeting in a show of support for Jami Thompson, a volunteer wrestling coach who was asked not to return to that position this season, he claims, as retribution for challenging a decision about the fall cheerleading program.
The cheerleading coach, he said, had instituted a policy that prohibited ninth graders from joining the varsity squad. Thompson eventually took his case to the Virginia High School League and freshmen were allowed to try out. He claimed that the new wrestling coach had pointed to that incident as a reason for him not being asked to come back as an assistant coach.
Thompson took his case to the Mathews County School Board, he said, because “I’ve exhausted every (other) option I have.” Everywhere Thompson turned, he said, “I’ve only been met with stone walls.”
Thompson, who said he has been serving as an assistant coach for nine seasons with the wrestling program, proposed that a committee with parents of students participating in every varsity sport be set up to advise the school board on matters related to the athletic program.
“He’s a fabulous coach,” Debra Moore, parent of a varsity wrestler, said of Thompson. “He has the heart, he has the passion and he has the knowledge,” she said, and he’s willing to give his time without pay. Another parent, Tracey Tunstall, also spoke out for Thompson’s reinstatement and in favor of fair tryouts for all sports.
Michael C. Rowe, former county supervisor and school board member, went a step further than the other speakers, suggesting that Superintendent of Schools Dr. David J. Holleran resign immediately.