Charles Welde, an assistant football coach at U.S. Grant High School in Oklahoma City, wants the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association to do “the right thing” for his players. Welde shouldn't hold his breath waiting.
Last month, the OSSAA board rejected a proposal to allow the U.S. Grant and Capitol Hill football teams to play independent schedules for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The teams are badly outnumbered each week, and have been for years, while playing in the state's two largest classifications. Capitol Hill, a Class 5A school, was 0-10 last season and hasn't won more than two games in a season since 1992. Grant, a 6A school, in 2012 won its first game in three years; it's had 16 one- or no-win seasons in the past 24 years.
The proposed change might help the teams become competitive, which in turn could generate player interest and help the programs turn around. But the OSSAA board said no. There are rules, after all, including one that requires a school that wants independence to withdraw from the OSSAA in all sports. A school could always choose to drop its program, one athletic director said, “but we think it's better to stay in the system and work to make it better.”
Welde has heard that many times — get better. Those who make that argument, he wrote to the OSSAA in a letter The Oklahoman published Sunday, ought to spend time a little time at Grant. “It would serve our kids and our community to create an environment of competitive fairness that will encourage students at Grant to run toward after school athletics instead of running away from it.”
His letter won't change the board's mind, but it's a powerful testimonial to the challenges Grant's football coaches face. Their victories aren't reflected on the scoreboard, but a fighting chance at a few of those wins once in a while would be nice.