City Paper is not for tourists
Via DCSportsFan.com: Spingarn football coach Paris Adon won’t be back next season.
I’ve been following that school’s football woes for several years. There is probably a coaching job somewhere as bad as Spingarn’s. But not worse. Can’t be.
Adon, like every Spingarn coach I’ve met, had heroic qualities. I went to Spingarn’s first football team meeting last summer. The Green Wave was coming off an 0-9 season, its first year with Adon as coach, and had been outscored 415-44.
Only 11 kids showed up that day, and a couple of them were ineligible to practice or participate in any extracurricular activities because of grades.
The scene depressed the crap outta me.
Adon was all smiles, however.
“Last year I had five,” Adon told me. “Welcome to Spingarn football!”
Adon, like all the others, came into the job against the advice of friends and family, and knowing the how awful the situation was. They all thought they could overcome the crap.
I remember talking to John “Junebug” Matthews in 2005, his first year as Spingarn coach. Only five players showed up for his first day of practice, also. The school didn’t even give Matthews keys to the locker room or the practice field before the scheduled start of the season.
So Matthews had to break into his own practice field, and when he did he found that the only blocking sled was embedded a foot deep in mud. The Redskins had paid for a new football field for the school, but nobody knew how to use the sprinkler system, so it immediately went to hell. Matthews ended up forfeiting the first two games as head coach because he couldn’t find 18 players to dress.
Matthews was out against his wishes a year later for not winning enough games.
Adon lasted just as long. Last year he told me he had implemented “a five-year plan” that would end with Spingarn winning at least seven games in a single season — nobody affiliated with the school could tell me the last time the Green Wave had even a winning season — and all his players getting passing grades.
He said he wouldn’t leave until the goals had been met.
He was going to take care of the on-field tasks all by himself, as well as some of the off-field duties. Adon, for example, spent a lot of time fundraising for transportation costs so his kids could play a game in West Virginia.
But Adon told me he’d need a lot of help from school administrators to get his kids up to speed academically. Last year the Washington Post reported only 17 percent of Spingarn students passed the standardized math exam given all DCPS high school sudents. Just 19 percent passed the reading exam.
“I started a tutoring program here and went to teachers to ask for help, and a lot told me they’d help,” Adon told me last year.
None of the Spingarn teachers who’d said they’d tutor, Adon said, ever showed up.
So it’s not just football players that don’t show up at Spingarn.
photos by Darrow Montgomery