To reinstate Darcy Birse and the entire coaching staff for the 2015 PAL football season, and maintain a successful program.
**As of this writing, Darcy Birse has been informed that there is no chance for a return to the PAL as coach (along with his staff). He will not seek a coaching position in any league or capacity for the upcoming season. At present, the PAL is scrambling to find replacement coaches who may be unqualified.
As parents, we are deeply disappointed, angry, and frustrated with the PAL and its officials for betraying our trust and for maneuvering behind the scenes while attempting to keep most parents in the dark as to the direction our football program until the season is upon us.
Some of the former coaches may soon present an alternative to the Westfield PAL which will be communicated separately from this document, and there will be ample time to consider options.
I personally will evaluate all of these options with my son (as you should as well) and let him consider whether to join friends in another program, sit out football entirely, or reluctantly return to Westfield PAL football. The PAL option will be considered only if qualified coaches are retained.**
As concerned Westfield parents, many of us have had the pleasure of being involved at many levels in several sports. We feel that it is very rewarding to teach kids how to play a game, and watch them execute together on the field.
We feel that the non-specific idea of any "new direction" with the PAL program will not only discourage new kids from playing football, but may cause many current players to leave the Westfield program entirely.
We understand that this change can be attributed to a small group of extremely vocal, disgruntled parents who have taken issue with the way last year's team was coached, and we think the decision to dismiss the coaching staff was made in haste.
We certainly do acknowledge that although the sheer number of players was difficult for the coaches to manage at times, there are areas that are worthy of significant improvement, namely with player substitutions. With different clock management rules for the upcoming season, this should present much less of an issue.
What also seems to have gone without being acknowledged, is that despite the significant commitment of time and effort by our volunteer coaching staff, several opportunities to gain game experience, build skills, and get playing time were provided by scheduling live scrimmages against other NJSYFL teams under game conditions. This was done deliberately as an accomodation to those who felt their boys weren't getting enough game time. The organization and coordination of these games were also far above and beyond the already substantial time commitment of the coaching staff. In spite of this, some parents chose to continue to try to undermine our program and coaches.
We are aware that a meeting took place without engaging all interested parties, namely the coaching staff, who was neither notified of nor invited to, that resulted in their dismissal.
We emphasize that most parents feel differently, and we are circulating this petition in order to express our opinion of and gratitude to these coaches for their time and efforts, and especially our support for their reinstatement.
Many of our children have been part of the Westfield PAL Football program since they were initially eligible in the third grade. Every team they have played on has sought excellence and we are extremely grateful to Coaches Birse, Engelke, Gallo, Kehler, Fischer, and others for their efforts. Competition has also been a significant part of their learning experience.
The coaches have held extremely high standards for their players, as well a great spirit of tradition and integrity for the overall program. As parents we are happy and satisfied knowing that our children have been part of such a program.
Every coach makes our childrens' safety the highest priority, as well as the competitive experience and sense of team. They have focused on technique and form to insure player safety. Fortunately, it has been very rare we have had serious injuries, due in part to learning correctly how to play the game.
It's one thing to question the play call of a coach, or a referee, but many of us were shocked and disappointed in some other parents' behavior with their attacks on the character of the program and the coaches who dedicate a significant portion of their time to our children and community.
The majority of us feel very strongly that the coaches have handled themselves with class and dignity, despite what we feel is inappropriate behavior by some adults. Regardless of our differences of opinion, it is acceptable to disagree without being disagreeable.
We realize you cannot please everyone, no matter what you do, but when parents start interfering it becomes a major issue for us all. There has to be a way to solve this problem without dismantling a very successful program that seeks to attract more participants to it, not drive them to other programs or out of the sport entirely, because of the petty squabbles and personal agendas of a small vocal minority. Several parents have approached the Westfield PAL with workable solutions that have fallen on deaf ears.
Most of the time children understand, that although they may not be as skilled as some others at this point in their lives, that can change very quickly as they grow, practice and develop. Most will accept this, without any stigma attached, and being part of the team with their friends and learning the sport is of utmost importance to them.
We expect our kids to be participating, learning and giving their all every single day, as the coaches do. We expect them to be respectful to their teammates, coaches and to have fun. Our boys have definitely had a great experience and will continue to as they move up through the system. If the coaches from which we have gotten so much are dismissed, and our program is turned upside down, many of us will be extremely disappointed and may consider having our boys play elsewhere, or nowhere at all.
We urge you to reconsider these hasty, ill-conceived changes to our Westfield PAL Football program and reinstate the coaches who have given our sons and community so much.