NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – A standing-room-only crowd of about 250 residents descended on Monday night’s Board of Education meeting to offer support for New Providence Hitch School wrestling Coach Gary Bremer, whose job is in jeopardy.
The circumstances as to why Bremer’s job is at risk are cloudy. According to a message sent to the New Providence community by his wife Jenn, Bremer met last Tuesday with Schools Superintendent Dr. David Miceli and advised his status was in danger.
Two sources confirmed to TAPinto New Providence that the meeting stemmed from an incident that occurred at February’s District 12 tournament at South Plainfield High School.
During the championship match, senior wrestler Dan Kourakos suffered a broken nose, but went on to win the match and advance to the Region 3 tournament following weekend.
The wrestler received treatment for his injury including surgery for a broken bone. For his next match, he was provided with a protective mask.
No formal documents were provided to the school nurse clearing the young wrestler for further competition which may, in itself, constitute a violation of rules and regulations.
However, Jane Kourakos, the wrestler’s mother, said during the public hearing that her son received a slight fracture and was cleared by his physician for competition.
For more than an hour and a half, some 75 residents lined up to address the board relating personal stories on the impact Coach Bremer had made on their lives.
Parents, current and former wrestlers, painted a portrait of a dedicated coach who had made a profound impact on their lives.
Bob Dougherty, a 30-year resident of the borough and a former chairman of the local Republican Committee, praised Bremer and said that “wrestling can bring out aggression in a positive way.”
Tyler Gazaway the son of two police officers and a member of the wrestling team said that Bremer “taught me a lot about being a man.”
Former wrestler Shane Mallory said he had found a way to connect with Bremer. Raised in a single-parent home, he stated the coach was very much a father figure that made an important impact to his life.
“You would be destroying a culture if you got rid of him,” Mallory said.
Brittany Bremer, the coach’s daughter, with a voice breaking talked about her dad’s character and his strength. Tear-eyed, she fled into her mother’s arms.
Still another resident, Caroline Hughes, emotionally described Bremer as a “great guy who really cares.”
Concerning the young wrestler’s condition, Mark Zimmerman a physician at Overlook Hospital and a long-time follower of NPHS wresting said he had never seen Bremer put any of his athletes at risk. “He’s pulled kids off mats at the slightest injury,” he added.
In a lighter moment, that drew loud laughter, Eileen DiMaio said she hated wrestling but felt her son was “in good hands” with Bremer.
Since personnel matters are kept mum by the board and discussed only in a closed session as permitted by state law, several residents were puzzled by what, if any, infractions were committed by Bremer.
“I don’t know what the issue is,” resident Mr. Baldwin said. Other members of the audience were also puzzled but there was no response from board members.
The next to the last person to address the board was Michael Norris who said he had no intention to speak but was troubled by the evening’s events.
He asked who in the room had done more for borough youngsters. “I don’t know what his infraction is; if it’s forgivable, forgive him.”
Prior to the 7:30 p.m. meeting, there was a large gathering of about 50 supporters in the parking lot across from the school
Spokesman John Pilley told the gathering the assembly was not a protest. “We’re here to show support for Coach Bremer,” he said.
At the end of the evening, the board went into a closed session; presumably, to discuss Bremer’s future employment.