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Students protest popular prep swimming coach’s firing over same-sex marriage

Ben Rohrbach
Prep Rally

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Eastside Catholic High swimmers pledge their support to recently fired coach Mark Zmuda -- Associated Press

Eastside Catholic High swimmers pledge their support to recently fired coach Mark Zmuda -- Associated Press

The president of a Catholic prep school outside of Seattle has resigned as debate rages over the firing last month of a popular swimming coach who recently disclosed his same-sex marriage to the administration, according to a Post-Intelligencer report.

During their first meet following coach Mark Zmuda's ousting in late December, members of the Eastside Catholic High swimming team wrote messages of support on themselves for "Mr. Z." Zmuda also served as a teacher and vice principal at the school.

Likewise, hundreds of Eastside Catholic students have since gathered to protest the school's decision, singing the Mary Lambert portion of the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis song "Same Love" in unison at one point, according to the Post-Intelligencer -- a powerful statement from students who described themselves as the future of the Catholic Church.

Students from local Jesuit schools Holy Names Academy, Bishop Blanchet High and Seattle Prep have also reportedly pledged their support behind an initiative to wear Eastside orange on Jan. 31 in observance of "Zday" for the fired coach.

Meanwhile, Eastside Catholic president Sister Mary Tracy resigned amid the controversy, according to the Post-Intelligencer. The school's board of trustees released a statement to the paper announcing, "Sr. Mary came to this decision after much prayer and reflection."

However, Seattle’s Catholic Archbishop J. Peter Sartain previously released a statement endorsing Sr. Mary Tracy's decision. Because Zmuda had disclosed his same-sex marriage this past summer, Sartain said, "the school administration was left with no acceptable alternative that would allow him to remain eligible for employment at Eastside Catholic."

Sartain was reportedly attending a nearby anti-abortion rally when Sr. Mary Tracy resigned. He has ignored a petition that received 21,000 signatures on Zmuda's behalf. The petition, per the P-I, read: "The year is 2014: It’s time to stop firing teachers for being gay. Please take this bold step and help stem the firing of gay Catholic educators. Be a shining light for your colleagues in other dioceses. If you lead, they will follow.”

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is an openly gay practicing Catholic who also married his partner this past summer. Eastside Catholic High is located in Sammamish, Wash., a Seattle suburb located roughly 30 miles inland from Puget Sound, but Archbishop Sartain probably feels like he's on an island right about now.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Prep Rally on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at preprallyblog@yahoo.com or follow Prep Rally on Twitter!

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