Current and former players of popular high school coaches try to take measures to save their mentors' jobs all the time. In that way, recent events at Medford (Mass.) High are no different than others from recent years.
Yet, in another sense, the Medford boys soccer team has taken the ultimate selfless step, and been rewarded for doing so. After being told that longtime coach Michael Petrides has been fired, the team stepped forward to say that it wouldn't play the 2011 season under any other coach.
As chronicled by the Boston Globe, Medford Transcript and other Massachusetts media outlets, the reinstatement of Petrides was made official on Saturday, when Medford headmaster Paul Krueger held a press conference to announce that Petrides would return for a fifth season this fall. The move came just weeks before students are to return to school, when the Medford team will reunite to try and launch another run to the Massachusetts Division I state playoffs.
"Sometimes there are things more important than being right," Krueger told those assembled at his Saturday press conference. "I have chosen to hold as priorities the cohesiveness and overall long-term interests of Medford High School and of the Medford community.
"[The decision to fire Petrides] pit student against student, teacher against teacher, team against team, and neighbor against neighbor."
The move to reinstate Petrides, who has been at Medford as an assistant or head coach for 12 years, was widely cheered by other current players and the town's mayor, who had been among the public figures to support the deposed soccer leader. In the aftermath of Krueger's decision, Medford Mayor Michael McGlynn praised the headmaster for being willing to sacrifice his own decision for the better future of the overall community.
Of course, the biggest winners of all were the student athletes, who learned that concerted player power could challenge a widely unpopular decision from an administration.
"Emotions got in the way," Medford junior captain Jonathan Pires told the media at the press conference. "We are Mustangs. We would have played. Coach [Petrides] wouldn't have wanted it any other way."
The Mustangs will play the 2011 season, and they'll do it with precisely the man at the helm that they want. No one is happier about that than the man himself, who had the broadest smile of all at the ceremonial press conference, according to the Globe.
Petrides said he is looking forward to a fresh start. "Now it's time to turn the page and move on to a new chapter," Petrides said in brief remarks at the press conference. "We have a lot of work ahead of us."