Pine Richland community shows ‘silent support’ for fired football coach

Apr. 20—Reaction to the firing of Pine-Richland high school football Coach Eric Kasperowicz has been swift and strong.

It has ranged from confusion and anger over the school board’s lack of an explanation — citing their policy not to comment on personnel matters — to students rallying outside their football stadium, a school board member’s resignation, and an athletic director from another district urging football coaches across the commonwealth not to apply for the open Pine Richland coaching spot.

On Monday, it took the form of a six-minute show of “silent support” for Kasperowicz at the Richland Township Community Park football field.

The event was organized by Pine Richland Youth Football & Cheer. Kelly Huffman, the group’s board president, said his members want to support the coaching staff that has done likewise for them.

“They’ve always been involved in the youth program, from kids’ night at the varsity game to (Kasperowicz) and the senior players coming to speak with youth players,” Huffman said. “He’s always been great with our kids over the years and, quite frankly, for a lot of them, their dream is to play high school football for Coach K.”

The school district in recent weeks investigated allegations of possible hazing or bullying associated with the team, said current and former football players who were questioned by administrators. However, the district has not confirmed the investigation and declined to explain why Kasperowicz’s contract wasn’t renewed.

“We’re trying to show solidarity and support of a great leader and coach,” said Jason Hamilton of Wexford. “We’re trying to change their minds if we can, through a consolidated front.”

Over the weekend, high school coaches across the region sent messages of support for Kasperowicz and his staff through social media channels.

Huffman said the show of “silent support” is just another of those messages.

“We kind of talked about it as a board, and didn’t see any negatives about it,” he said. “We’re all coming for the same reason: we definitely support Coach Kasperowicz and we want to show that.”

Kasperowicz recently reached out to district officials through an advisor, in an effort to meet and “come to a resolution quickly.”

Stephen Verderber of Pine said he felt the district’s lack of communication was symptomatic of a larger issue.

“As a constituent of the area and a taxpayer, we really haven’t felt like the administration or the board has been paying attention to the average folk,” he said. “In fact, it almost seems like they dismiss, as a general rule, the opinion of the community.”

Mary Brennan of Pine has been friends with Kasperowicz and Jared Miller, another coach who lost his position, for years.

“We’ve raised our kids together, and they’re two of the best people I know,” she said. “They’re stand-up guys, and to see what’s happened to them with no explanation and no answers is just absolutely despicable. The misuse of power in this situation is a travesty and should not set a precedent for future coaches, teachers or staff at Pine-Richland.”

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, pvarine@triblive.com or via Twitter .

Leave a Reply