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Forest Park varsity football coaches, superintendent speak about resignation

Both coaches have been with the program for over 25 years. They attribute the leave to difference of opinion.
Published: Oct. 7, 2020 at 3:31 PM EDT
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CRYSTAL FALLS, Mich. (WLUC) -High school football is returning to Forest Park this week, but two familiar faces will be missing.

“The reason why I resigned is because of the COVID pandemic,” said Dave Graff, the Forest Park head varsity football coach.

Graff and assistant coach Gerard Valesano both turned in their resignation Monday night, after it was announced the school district’s athletics would be returning this week, despite the school not returning to in person learning. Both jobs have been posted and the search is ongoing.

Both coaches have been with the program for over 25 years. They attribute the leave to difference of opinion.

Graff told TV6, “We talk about doing the right things on the football field, as well as off the football field. Now, with this whole pandemic upon us, we as the coaching staff, feel adamant that we have to do what’s right for our community.”

“When they brought it back to full contact regular games, and we had our game in Newberry, it made me really think hard. It made it difficult to continue,” said Valesano.

Valesano says he was asked to be furloughed for the season, and he’s not sure he would return to coaching in the future.

“I’m not really sure, I just know, this year, I can not continue due to the safety reasons,” he added.

Graff says he realizes the most impacted by this decision, are the players.

“But life’s toughest lessons are learned in in things where you get knocked down," he said.

The Forest Park superintendent Christy Larson says currently, no high school volleyball or football players are quarantined, or positive, at this time. She says that, and due to the decreased numbers in the school district, is the reason the board made the decision to bring sports back.

“They wanted to make sure they provided opportunities for our students, if they want to play,” said Larson.

This means the football game this week at North Dickinson will be played as scheduled. In the meantime, the varsity assistant coaches will lead the varsity team.

Larson says conversations are ongoing with the health department as well as West Iron County Schools, as to when students can return to face-to-face learning.

“As of right now Monday does look promising for us,” she added.

That decision will be made in the upcoming days. There is a special board of education meeting scheduled for Thursday at 6 p.m. central time, at the school. That is open to the public.

Click here for updated COVID-19 numbers from the school district.

Copyright 2020 WLUC. All rights reserved.

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