MONTGOMERY - Every seat in the room was filled on Tuesday night at the Montgomery School Board's monthly meeting. Parents, students and former football players gathered to voice their growing concerns about head football coach Randy Boone.
On Aug. 21, thirteen players walked off the field during practice - quitting the team. Boone continues to coach, despite allegations that he fails to listen to players' concerns, hides injuries from trainers, and shows favoritism to certain players, particularly his son.
"We're here because we want to discuss the football coaching issue," said Heather Snyder, a concerned parent.
However, the board firmly refused to comment on personnel.
"The board cannot discuss personnel matters, using names, with the public. The football coaching contract will be reviewed after the season is over, as it is every year," said Adam Diggan, board president.
"We'll listen to what you have to say but we're not going to discuss individuals or name names," he added.
With these conditions in place, Diggan opened the floor for further comments. However, the public fell silent.
Instead of addressing the board, about a dozen people gathered outside the school to voice their concerns to the Sun-Gazette.
"We're tired of hearing that the board won't review Boone's contract until the end of the season. We pay his salary. He's coaching our children. Why don't our voices matter in this decision," said Snyder.
"We had thirteen talented athletes leave the team, and now we have 125-pound kids going up against 200-pound kids. It's a safety issue," she added.
Another safety issue parents are concerned about is allegations that Boone has hidden player's injuries from athletic trainers in the past, in order to continue putting the injured player on the field.
Parents also allege that Boone refuses to listen to the concerns of the players and their parents.
Chris Thomas, another concerned parent, argued that Boone should have let the players vote on their own captains instead of appointing them himself.
"There are no opportunities to try out for positions. The coach determines everything. Why not let the players vote on who their own team captains are," Thomas said.
His son, student Craig Thomas, was the first player to leave the field during the walkout. Craig said the players didn't want to quit, but felt that they had no choice.
After the walk out, a meeting was arranged between parents, high school principal Michael Prowant and athletic director Jason Rupert. Both Craig and his father felt that their concerns remained unaddressed, even after the meeting.
"We tried to talk to the coach, he wouldn't listen to us. Then we tried talking to Prolant and Rupert, but they didn't listen either," Craig said.
Thomas explained that the players had been feeling frustrated with Boone's coaching style for some time. The players felt that they needed to do something drastic in order to get the attention of school administration.
"I didn't want to quit. I loved playing. But something had to change - what else was there for us to do," Chris said. "We need a new coach - one who will play everyone equally and fairly."