It’s never enjoyable to see a community turn on a high school coach.
It’s not at all fun now, as calls grow for 17-year veteran Jim Walsh Jr.’s job, if not his actual head.
Not winning enough at Bradwell Institute.
Never mind that Walsh, who in 18 years at BI has a 114-93 record and 10 trips to the state playoffs, hasn’t missed a tackle this season.
Nor has he jumped offsides, dropped a pass, thrown an interception or fumbled a ball.
Never mind that Bradwell doesn’t have a feeder system, which puts the team behind the eight ball at the state level and, as we see now, can even hurt it at during Region 3-AAAAA play.
Never mind, too, that Walsh’s career, his livelihood and his reputation are in the hands of teenage kids who know what is said about them and their coach — a coach, by the way, who wouldn’t dream of throwing them under the bus.
None of that matters to those who believe they know why a team goes 1-9, from the boobirds in the stands to the amateur athletic directors and coaching geniuses who call Sound off or grouse on the Courier’s blogs or the Georgia Varsity Sports Vent message boards.
To them, the problem is Walsh and has been for years. Because, you see, bashing Walsh is nothing new in some circles.
It probably started the day he showed up in Hinesville, but it has picked up steam and taken on a meaner edge recently. Thus, those who practice the sport of Walsh bashing deny him credit for wins while putting full blame on his shoulders for losses. That seems to me a bit unfair, but I’m told it goes with the territory, so all you aspiring coaches, pay close attention.
What’s happening to Walsh may well happen to you someday.
But I don’t want to paint all of Walsh’s critics with the same brush because, in fairness, there are those who believe it’s time for the veteran coach to retire who still have managed to conduct themselves as adults this season — and in seasons past.
Perhaps that’s because they understand Walsh has given a lot not only to Bradwell Institute, but to the entire community. They know he’s a good man who does far more behind the scenes for the kids he coaches than his detractors will ever know, or likely care about.
They also know he deserves better than he’s gotten from those in the stands who boo or scream profanity, or those who use the Internet or a call in to the Whine Line to rant, grind axes or simply fulfill some sad urge to bring someone down. They know that, at the very least, Walsh deserves a measure of respect.
I don’t know what the future holds for BI football or for Walsh, who publicly has remained silent. But as this mess plays out, he’s shown something his worst critics haven’t.
It’s called dignity. Or call it taking the high road.
And if that’s the last lesson Walsh gets to teach the Tigers, it’s far better than the one they’re learning from snarky blogs or calls to Sound off or the boobirds in the stands.
Jeff Whitten covers sports for the Coastal Courier and Bryan County News.