Bo Nichols 0

Arawak Football

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Dear Virgin Islands High School Football Community, I’m sure most of you are aware of Antilles School’s decision to bar the Arawak Warriors football team from its facilities on the basis of player safety and finances. While this is not an explicit termination of the program, it does create considerable logistical obstacles that may be insurmountable for the Warriors and Virgin Islands football in general. Dr. Michael Hughes, now entering his 3rd year as Headmaster of Antilles, made the decision to withhold the use of the school’s facilities less than a month ago, and The Board of Trustees is standing behind him. Their only response to requests to expound on their reservations has been a statement that the decision is final, no further discussion necessary. I am appalled that this action, with such potentially devastating consequences, was taken with so little input from all those affected. Dr. Hughes and the Board owe the community the opportunity to discuss their decision at much greater length. As a direct result of losing access to the facilities at Antilles, the Arawaks may well be unable to field a team, putting tackle football within the territory in serious jeopardy. With only four teams left to compete, two on St. Thomas and two on St. Croix, and the challenges associated with arranging for those teams to travel to each others’ islands, tackle football in the Virgin Islands could very easily cease to exist. That may sound alarmist, but certainly is not unrealistic. As a former Arawaks player, Antilles alumnus and member of the community, I have no interest in seeing that happen, nor having the cause associated with the school that I attended. Since making the determination, Dr. Hughes and the Board have refused to meet with Arawaks Head Coach Luke Neely to discuss any possible remedy. The Arawaks independently fundraise to cover all their expenses. Coach Neely has had no problem finding donors in the past and has not needed assistance from Antilles School, so the claim of financing issues is perplexing at best. I understand concerns for player safety. No one is suggesting this concern is in any way trivial. However, any further depth as to the concern is seriously lacking. Dr Hughes has provided no elaboration on how he arrived at the conclusion that what was transpiring within the Arawak Program was unsafe. Was he attending practices and seeing instruction of improper technique? Is this just passing judgment on football as being inherently unsafe? I invite Dr. Hughes to take a long look at the history of injuries over the past 15 years of football in the territory. He’d find a remarkable dearth of the typical serious injuries that occur in high school programs around the nation. The empirical data speaks for itself, the coaching staffs are doing something right. Furthermore, if the Arawaks are even able to field a team, by forcing them to use potentially lesser facilities than those at Antilles, Dr. Hughes is actually increasing the chance of serious injury to the student athletes whose safety he is allegedly attempting to ensure. I hope the Headmaster can see the irony this presents. In my opinion, I feel it is only appropriate that the Board and Dr. Hughes meet with parents, players and anyone involved in Virgin Islands Football to discuss this issue. Clearly this decision has potentially huge implications, and I think it only fair that those with something to say be given that opportunity. I invite all those who agree with me to please sign below and pass this petition along, in hopes of convincing the administration to agree to such a meeting. Sincerely, Bo Nichols Arawak Warriors (2000-2002) Antilles High School, Class of 2003

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