RANDOLPH, NJ- Over 40 Randolph high school football players and numerous parents attended the Randolph Board of Education meeting on Tuesday Apr. 25 to show support for football coach Tarig Holman.
During the public portion of the meeting, several players and parents addressed the board, speaking positive words about coach Holman and expressing disappointment over the confusion and lack of information surrounding his potential departure as coach.
“About a month ago, I started hearing rumors about our head coach not applying for the position. I did ask our superintendent to perform additional due diligence… In the news yesterday or today, we have heard that Coach is not seeking to come back to Randolph as head football coach,” said Board of Education President Al Matos at Tuesday’s meeting. “That makes me sad and disappointed.”
Matos continued by explaining a current NJ law not allowing board members to share any comments about personnel, negative or positive, in a public forum.
“I cannot say, and neither can any other board members, how sad we are about Coach not accepting the position,” he explained. “We support the football program immensely, much more has happened the past two years than in prior years… Whatever happens, there’s no such thing as a done deal.”
Matos did reference an article in The Trentonian stating a motion passed to hire Holman in the Trenton district for the next year. However, he does not “know this first hand. I just read the paper.”
Tammy MacKay, chair of the Personnel Committee added that while these matters cannot be discussed with the public, the board has been investigating the issue at the committee level in closed session.
Parents and students encouraged the administration to dig into the situation and find out why the coach would leave, explaining that Holman considered coaching at Randolph High School his dream job.
“I will say that I have been told the article in the Trentonian paper was maybe a bit premature.… Obviously if that were true it would be a substantial change in role for the individual,” said Mike Petruzziello, parent and President of Friends of Randolph Football. “I can tell you that what I’ve seen over the past two years... is extraordinary.”
“I’ve seen a passion for the program. I’ve seen tireless work by the coach and his staff. I’ve seen him be the most accessible coach that I’ve ever had an experience with… That’s the good,” Petruzziello continued. “The bad is what I’m seeing right now, and this started a few weeks ago, and it’s deeply concerning to me…. When you have disruption and all of these rumors and suggestions… and ultimately with the potential departure of the coach, you know this impacts these guys (players).”
Petruzziello explained Holman’s views of the team first as a family, and then as a college-bound program. He believes losing this influence will hurt the players’ goals and ultimately scholarship opportunities.
“Please work to get to the bottom of this,” Petruzziello concluded. “This is embarrassing to Randolph, I think. And it definitely isn’t bringing our program forward.”
Several student athletes came forward to remind the Board of Education and the administration of the influence Holman had on the school as a whole.
“Every time I’m at a Randolph sporting event, Coach Holman is always there,” began Senior Captain Sean Makovec. “He is the first person in and last person out, supporting our team. Hockey, Basketball, It doesn’t matter what sport it is.... He’s going to be there.”
“On a more personal note, I was raised with a single mom. Never had a father figure... until Coach Holman came and treated me like a son,” Makovec shared. “Not only did I grow as a football player, but as a man in general. He taught me self-respect, determination and how to be a leader. I personally got into college because of him. He pushed me, not only athletically, but academically.”
Several other students echoed these comments, stating Holman was the greatest coach and teacher they knew. Senior Captain Carlo Zarro recounted the concussion that changed his future, and believes “if it wasn’t for [Holman], I don’t know how I would have emotionally gotten through that.”
“Randolph is his alma mater, and he said that this was his dream job countless number of times, and he wouldn’t want to replace it for the world.” Zarro said.
“This great culture that he created needs to be recognized and preserved. It is imperative that if he cannot be brought back, that a coach already in the program is hired as head coach,” suggested Junior Joe Buttafuoco. “If this does not happen, all the progress that Randolph football has made will be for nothing.”
Parent Lamont Boykins stated, “where there’s smoke there’s fire,” and encouraged the board to find the reason for Holman’s departure.
In total, seven parents and six players spoke on Holman’s behalf. Other players referred to Holman as “Irreplaceable”, “A great leader” and ”Someone we all look up to”. Three of the parents didn’t even have kids on the team, but spoke as concerned citizens.
Colleen Pascale, board member and parent, responded to these comments with her support of the football program over the past two years.
“I appreciate you student athletes. Many of you have scholarships, including my son, because of the development of the program,” Pascale stated. “Many parents have contacted me in regard to this situation… I’ll let you know that when you do contact me, it does not fall on deaf ears. I appreciate everything the parents have said tonight about the program, and as a parent I would like to continue that. I think that says something, because my son is graduating and there’s nothing to gain for us… But this program is very valuable, and has been very valuable to the success of my own child.”
Another parent from the Band parents Association was addressing the board on issues regarding the music program, but took a moment to mention Holman and the “Family” motto coach tried to instill.
“Having listened to these kids and parents speak tonight, I want to make a quick comment about coach,” the parent stated. “After we defeated Roxbury in a big game this season, coach waited for the band to say ‘thank you’ to them. It was a simple, easy thing to do, and it didn’t take a lot of effort. But it was a sign of respect, and I think that speaks volumes.”