During Tuesday night’s Methacton School Board meeting, the board and the public got a chance to hear not only from a large group of supporters now known as “Team Maida,” but also from the coach himself.
Anthony J. “AJ” Maida took to the podium to defend his own position and ask for the board’s assistance. He began his short statement by stating he did not know of any reasons he should be dismissed, and would be happy to answer any questions that the school board members may have.
The only reference to a negative impact Maida mentioned was an action taken back in January.
"When I met with administration about issues of concern this past January, my understanding was that they were issues from prior years, and that I'd taken the steps to address them," he said. “Never did I anticipate that these would be use to end my tenure as coach. My goal is to remain as the head wrestling coach to continue to serve the district and the team I love.”
Defining himself as a “teacher at Methacton High School,” Maida said he has always given his wrestling coach position his all. Lime green T-shirts continued to fill the crowd, donning their “Team Maida” pride. Following his short announcement requesting to be reinstated, Maida was greeted with a loud, standing-ovation applause from a yet again full house of supporters.
“My goal is to remain as the head wrestling coach to continue to serve the district and team that I love,” he said at the podium.
He said his own life has suffered as a result of his hard work for Methacton.
“I serve my Methacton family, often to the detriment of my own family,” said Maida, noting he had missed personal vacations, downtime and even a child’s first words while working as coach for Methacton’s wrestling squad. “I have yet to take a single sick day.”
Maida added that he never thought he’d done anything wrong, citing a recent meet in which Methacton Superintendent David A. Zerbe himself was present.
“After the meet against Upper Perkiomen, I emailed Dr. Zerbe to thank him for his attendance,” said Maida. “He replied and said he was proud of myself and the team, and that Methacton was well represented.”
Finally, Maida asked the board for its help to regain his position.
“Aid me in continuing to lead the Methacton Wrestling program,” said Maida.
“I do not know what the board can and cannot hear, but I will answer any and all questions the board has for me about my role.”
According to a 2007 article in the Times Herald, this is not Maida’s first firing as a wrestling head coach. Citing “differing ideologies” he was removed from Wissahickon High School on May 18, 2007. He found out about his dismissal at his year-end evaluation.
“The school district and the coaching staff had a different idea of what we wanted the wrestling program to be,” Maida said in 2007 about his Wissahickon dismissal. “We know what we are about, and people had other ideas.”
Wissahickon’s current head wrestling coach spoke on Maida’s behalf during the Tuesday night Methacton school board meeting.
“I know AJ to be a passionate, caring coach who looks out for the best interest of his wrestlers,” said Anthony Stagliano, head coach at WHS. “I’ve now coached for over 30 years, and AJ is one of the best I’ve ever competed against.”
Medical professionals and District I officials spoke on behalf of Maida to discuss skin infections and illnesses that are rumored to be possible reasons he was removed. Both the medical professionals and officials said that all illnesses were not only a cause of anything under Maida’s responsibility, but were always handled appropriately per medical and District I rules, according to both persons speaking during the meeting’s Courtesy of the Floor session.
Other speakers noted that attempts for staff or the administration “muzzling” of the public, including players under Maida’s coaching teams, were false. Called “misinformation,” those spouting the rumors apologized during Tuesday’s session. One parent read aloud a received an email reply from Zerbe stating he apologized for any miscommunication of that fact, and that he, for one, never said anything to that effect.
Among speakers, a slew of parents, players, community members and those in the wrestling sport spoke once again on Maida’s behalf, recounting stories and accolades for the departed coach.
To date, no change has been made in the search for a new head wrestling coach for Methacton High School. Neither the board nor the administration has publically commented regarding Maida’s replacement at this time.
Following public comment, the Zerbe stated that “next steps” are unknown at this time.
“I think it is important to answer that appropriately,” said Zerbe. “I think next, we will consider any information that was stated here this evening. We may have some additional information for [the board’s] consideration. Perhaps some determination will be made moving forward as to what that timeline would look like or what we might do moving forward, but at this time I do not have any specifics to provide for you.”