DuBOIS — DuBois Area High School football coach Justin Marshall, who said he was told recently by district officials that they were going to look for a new coach next season, spoke on his own behalf, at Thursday night’s board meeting.
Marshall said he was “extremely humbled” by those who came out to voice their support for him.
“I intended to come and talk tonight. I had no idea that anyone was coming,” Marshall said.
“Three years ago I was hired to come in and change the culture from a program that was beaten into the ground by the way that the players were treated and the way things were run,” he said. “I was entrusted with that task, and I feel that we have made great strides in changing that culture — the things that our student athletes have done, community service projects that they volunteer to do.
“We got our team involved in the alma mater, which is, you know, for football players, the last thing that they want to do. And yet after every home game this year I stood in the middle of our team and heard these kids proudly sing a song they didn’t know existed before that, with our chorus and our cheerleaders and our band, to bring school unity and pride.”
After the season, Marshall said he was given a positive evaluation — the same evaluation he’s had for three years.
“I was commended for the way that I work with our student athletes,” he said. “I was told that what we needed in a coach three years ago when I was hired, I have brought that.”
And then he was told that they were going to look for a new coach.
“As you can imagine, I was floored instantly, confused, unsure exactly what just happened,” said Marshall.
The wins will come, said Marshall.
“I have fought for two years to get us into the District 9 League, where I’m not sure everyone is aware, we have 23 varsity sports,” said Marshall. “Two of those sports, District 9 teams do not have that sport. Twenty of those sports, we can be in the District 9 League — and then there’s football. No coach in (DASD) history has not coached against the District 9 schools. This schedule is only 4 years old. All three of my years have been outside of District 9.”
Two years ago, Marshall said he and Athletic Director Chuck Ferra looked into if the district could apply for acceptance into District 9 and were told it was too late for that cycle.
They said, ‘talk to us in two years,’” said Marshall. “Here we are two years later. Chuck Ferra and I put together a letter hoping for acceptance, and we were graciously accepted into that league for the betterment of our program and all our players.”
“The wins are coming, they’ll be here next year,” said Marshall. “I have no doubt about that. I feel that we’re now on a level playing field. I would love the opportunity to be evaluated on a level playing field as many of my colleagues.”
Marshall said they are doing all of the right things with the football program.
“I know that our players feel that way. I know that our coaches feel that way. I know that our parents feel that way,” said Marshall. “I am humbly asking, whoever is in charge of this decision, if they’re not here right now, please share.
“I was not given the opportunity to make this speech during my evaluation, or I would’ve done it then and there. I have no reservations about anything that I’m saying. Not for a second do I question what I’m doing. I am as proud of this district and our student athletes as anyone. And I will always do the right thing.
“So I am asking to be given that chance. Give me the opportunity to see through what I’ve started and you won’t be disappointed.”
At the end of the regular meeting, the board did go into an executive session, requested by outgoing Director Patty Fish, to discuss personnel.