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Column: Previous column caused communication breakdown

Mike McKay led Judge to a win over Lincoln on Thanksgiving. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

In last week’s paper, we should have had a story on Frank McArdle becoming the new football coach at Father Judge. We didn’t because the school didn’t want us to.

Two weeks ago, I emailed Judge president Brian King and athletic director Jake Serfass because I had heard the school hired a new coach. Serfass replied that it was not true.

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Four days later, the school announced McArdle’s hiring and alerted some media outlets. They never told me. I called both Serfass and King to find out why, and I was a little surprised by the response.

Well, not by Serfass’ response. He ignored the call.

King called me back to tell me he doesn’t get too involved in athletics, but he assumes I wasn’t informed about the new hire because of a column I wrote when Judge fired former coach Mike McKay.

King said he couldn’t speak for Serfass, but since he never called me back, this is all I have to go on, so I’ll address that.

The point of my column was that it’s tough to win games when you don’t have the best talent. I don’t think high school coaches should be judged by wins and losses, I think they should be judged on how much they help their players, both on and off the field. My point was it’s tough for neighborhood teams to compete against teams that draw from a much bigger area, and schools that are playing with different resources. My point was that guys who coach at schools like Judge should be graded on a curve in terms of winning.

Maybe I’m not the best writer, but most people figured out what I was saying. That’s apparently not how the honchos at Judge took it.

I was told my column was upsetting because it implied bad things about the Judge athletic programs and, for some strange reason, the facilities.

That wasn’t the intention at all.

The intention was to give my opinion in a column about the differences in talent. It’s something pretty much everyone involved in high school sports knows but rarely does anybody talk about it. I did. They missed the point and thought it was a slight against Judge. It wasn’t.

I was told during our brief chat that Judge has a great wrestling team, a great soccer team and a great crew team. I thought King would realize I knew these things since I write about them all the time. They’re in the paper and on our website if you want to see them.

I usually write about the great things at the school and not the bad things.

But even if I tore the school up one side and down the other, not sharing information is pretty weak, because in reality, it’s cheating Northeast Times readers.

You would think the school would be more worried about having people in Northeast Philadelphia learn about the direction of the football program than to settle a score with a reporter.

I estimate I write 20 stories a year about Judge athletes in all sports. It might even be more. They always focus on the athletes and they’re not negative. Now the reason they’re positive is because the school has a lot of great athletes and coaches and I love letting them tell their story. I don’t do it as a favor, I do it because they deserve it.

This is a job I take seriously, it’s a job I love and it’s a job that I’m able to do only because I have a great working relationship with the schools and coaches in the area. If a school goes out of its way to block me from getting stories, I can’t do the job.

I stand by everything I wrote in the original column, but if any school thought I wrote it to take a shot at their students, coaches or athletic program, it wasn’t.

And if anyone ever takes umbrage at my stories or columns, I’m pretty easy to get in touch with.

I’ll continue to write the stories I always have, and while I typically keep it positive, I will write columns when I see something that I believe needs to be addressed.

I reread the column and I truly can’t see anything that could even be remotely taken as negative about Judge. I did say Judge was a great school with great kids, yet King and, I’m guessing, Serfass, thought it was too harsh. Again, Serfass never called me back.

Hopefully Judge doesn’t hire any coaches this week, because I have a feeling after this column, I won’t be hearing about it if it does.

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