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End Zone Seat: A Fresh Start for Sports Program

Monday morning dawned grey and overcast, like most of our mornings this summer.

But despite the gloom, the day also marked the dawning of a new era in Wyalusing Valley High School sports.

The first day of practice for the fall sports seasons is always a harbinger of autumn.

This year's opening day signaled the end to what has been a tumultuous year for the school's athletic programs.

The 2003-2004 year started with concerns whether the football field would be available for the home opener because of the construction of the new track and refurbishing of the playing field.

The football team wasn't allowed to use the field for a scheduled scrimmage, and a junior varsity game slated with Canton was moved because the work wasn't approved by the administration.

Fortunately, the field was available for the slated home opener against Wellsboro.

Then in October, longtime athletic director and boys' basketball coach Raul Azpiazu took a leave of absence, forcing assistant principal Gary Otis to assume the post on an interim basis.

It wasn't until April 2004 before Azpiazu formally stepped down, allowing the administration to post his position.

At that same April meeting, head football coach Linc Welles, Jr.'s resignation was accepted.

The previous month, the school board had voted—over the administration's objections—to approve a boys' soccer team to begin play this fall.

That vote, along with his desire to spend more time with his family after a difficult season, was one reason why Welles stepped down from his position.

Eventually, plans to play boys' soccer this fall were dropped, although that decision was never officially announced until mid-July. A lack of interest in the coaching position was the principal reason for the decision to delay starting the program until the 2005 season.

Meanwhile, rumors about the vacant football coaching position were rampant in the community.

Everyone, it seemed, had an opinion as to who should fill the job.

"Who's the new football coach?" was the most frequently asked question of this sports scribe during the nearly four months that the position was officially vacant.

I had no answer because the administration was keeping close-mouthed about the situation.

Finally, on July 29, it was formally announced that Otis was the new football coach and Ed Astare was the new athletic director.

I was under the impression that the administration wasn't happy with the frequent queries that Wes and I posed about the vacancies.

"We're working to expedite the matter as fast as we can," was one response from the lame-duck superintendent, sarcasm dripping from every word.


When practically everyone I met on the street was asking me the same question, I felt I should inquire as to the status of the search from time to time.

The taxpayers are entitled to ask questions of their governmental officials. A newspaper has a duty to ask those questions for the public.

If an administrator doesn't want to be asked the same questions over and over again, there is a simple solution.

Answer the darn things!

Sidestepping questions only raises more questions, such as "What are you hiding?"

Through the past year, a cloud of uncertainty has hung over the athletic program at WVHS.

Hopefully, with the new people in place and the search for a new superintendent underway, the program will emerge from under that cloud.

Gary and Ed are honorable men. They will do Wyalusing Valley sports proud.

With any luck, the school board will find an equally honorable man to lead the district into the future.

Monday may have dawned darkly, but I suspect that a bright, new future for WVHS sports has begun.

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