MERCER COUNTY —
Jim Piccirilli called it a “whirlwind day.”
Bill Dodd described it as a “travesty” and referred to himself and his coaches as “pariahs.”
With that as the backdrop, Kennedy Catholic High boys’ soccer team will travel to Erie’s Cathedral Preparatory School today for a District 10 playoff match against Fairview.
However Dodd will not be making the trip.
Irate over a District 10 committee decision, Dodd tendered his resignation Wednesday afternoon, as did his assistant coaches Dean and Mark Toth.
Dodd’s abrupt resignation concludes a 9-year tenure as Golden Eagles’ head coach. He previously served as an assistant to Michael Pearce for 3 years. This was his 3rd KC club that qualified for the postseason.
Dodd’s dissatisfaction is “all ... a result of District 10 not doing the right thing, doing its job from the beginning.”
He was referencing a Monday afternoon regular-season match at Butala Stadium, won by Fairview, 4-1. Coach Jamin Bookhamer’s Tigers took their triumph to mean it was a play-in game to gain entry to the playoffs. Initially, that was not the case.
According to District 10’s posted playoff bracket, Kennedy Catholic (13-3-1), the Region 1 runner-up — was to have met Mercyhurst Prep, the Region 3 titlst, Tuesday. However, Dodd was informed of a scheduling change Wednesday morning. Rather than roll with it, he said he’d reached a personal tipping point.
“Our resignation as a coaching staff ... has nothing to do whatsoever with Fairview,” Dodd emphasized, though he later added, “Fairview got District 10 to change its decision, to come out with a different playoff bracket.
“This is unacceptable,” he said.
Dodd contends the magnitude of Monday’s match was not made clear to his club — that it was a play-in game. Had that been clarified, he said, it should have been scheduled at a neutral site with 3 officials.
“It was a complete lack of communication and, in my opinion, professionalism, to let us play that game without any meaning,” Dodd charged.
Dodd recalled a similar situation involving his 2005 KC club.
That Kennedy Catholic contingent — slightly above the .500 mark, he recalled — was awarded a playoff berth, rather than a 2-loss Eisenhower team. However, within less than 2 days, he said, he was notified Eisenhower, not Kennedy Catholic, was awarded the playoff berth. Consequently, he had to explain that decision to disappointed players and their families.
Eisenhower won that year’s D-10 title, Dodd recalled.
The victims in this melodrama are members of this season’s Kennedy Catholic squad. For his part, Piccirilli, the school’s athletic director, will chaperone the squad today. He has no soccer coaching background, but said,
“Our main focus is the boys. I’ll accompany them to Cathedral Prep to play Fairview, that’s as far as we are (Wednes)day. It’s been a whirlwind day and we’re just trying to get everything in place the best we can.
“I’ll be on the field with the boys and we’ll do the best we can do.”
A disappointed Dodd admitted today will be different — with his club competing and him not coaching it.
“The boys’ reaction was one of shock,” Dodd related, adding, “I think they understand I’m passionate about this; I’m not sure they understand exactly what this is all about, but that’s part of the guilt I have to carry around.
“I’m trying not to think about it,” he admitted regarding today’s surreal scenario. “Every time I feel guilty about it I try to remind myself it’s for a higher purpose.
“I’ve seen twelve different soccer teams, three different sets of freshmen come in and graduate. I love these boys, maybe more than any others,” Dodd admitted. “This is a wonderful team, absolutely wonderful! Their style of play ... their commitment to hard work.
“But I can assure you this is not a knee-jerk reaction,” Dodd emphasized. “I discussed it carefully, thought it out. I think this is the way God wanted me to go out — doing the right thing for soccer.
“If nothing else happens, maybe District 10’ll wake up and do the right thing for the kids.”
According to him, Dodd’s disenchantment with District 10 is widespread, particularly here in Mercer County.
“The support I’ve gotten from referees, coaches, it’s nothing short of remarkable!” Dodd related. “It’s an issue everyone feels strongly about.
“District 10 answers to no one. There are no guidelines, not rules — except their own,” he continued. “In my opinion this is an example of the damage they can cause because of the lack of a system.
“Can you imagine,” he rhetorically asked, “this happening in basketball (playoffs)? Treating basketball the same as soccer?
“I had to make a decision about soccer, about District 10, about Mercer County,” he also noted.
Admittly, Dodd’s decision was difficult, but he reasoned, “At least I got to resign with a purpose, instead of maybe resigning at the end of the season simply because I was tired ot it.
“I am happy, as are my assistants, to be able to resign with honor, in a sense, in an attack on a broken system,” Dodd concluded.
MERCER COUNTY —
Playoffs: GC, Hounds win; Reynolds, Sharpsville softball advance
The District 10 playoffs kicked off on Tuesday for 4 area baseball teams and 5 softball squads.
In Class A softball, Reynolds edged West Middlesex, 5-4, in an 8-inning thriller while Sharpsville ousted Rocky Grove, 5-0. In Class AA, Northwestern beat Wilmington, 9-5, and Harbor Creek defeated Mercer, 4-3.
Hickory boys edge WM for D-10 Class AA Track team title
HARBORCREEK — Hickory High co-head coach Mark Slezak referenced the term “exponential” in explaining the four-fold heart-felt feeling of having a relay team qualify for the PIAA Championships.
That sentiment seemed to summarize Mercer County’s performance during Saturday’s annual District 10 Class AA Track & Field Championships.
5 area teams qualify for D-10 baseball playoffs
Five area baseball teams have qualified for the District 10 playoffs — Grove City, Kennedy Catholic, Sharpsville, West Middlesex and Wilmington.
In the Class A semifinals, Kennedy Catholic faces Cochranton at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Northwestern High School. Rocky Grove faces Eisenhower in the other semifinal game.
Hickory, WM boys to collide at D-10 AA Track & Field Championships
For the 2nd time this week, a District 10 track & field team title could be decided by a pair of Mercer County contingents.
Just as Hickory and Grove City girls contested the Class AAA crown Wednesday night, so, too, are the Hickory and West Middlesex boys anticipating vying for Saturday’s AA title.
Roundup: Reynolds baseball tops GC; Sharpsville, Wilmington softball teams win
ä Reynolds 4, Grove City 1 — At Transfer, Neal Engstrom fired a complete-game 3-hitter with 8 strikeouts and 3 walks in lifting the Raiders (9-8) past the Eagles (14-6).
Ryan Grace was tagged with the loss for Grove City. He struck out 6 batters, issued no walks and gave up 7 hits in going the distance.
GC girls 3-peat at District 10 Class AAA Track & Field Championships
HARBORCREEK— Some athletes seeded 1st in four events would feel pressure. For Grove City High senior Daniel Jaskowak, it’s an opportunity for name recognition.
“I kind’ve like it. It’s cool, because people know who you are,” related Jaskowak, who won 3 events during Wednesday’s District 10 Class AAA Track & Field Championships.
Hickory, GC girls collide at D-10 Class AAA Track & Field Championships
If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. Cliché though that is, it will be borne out today at the annual District 10 Class AAA Track & Field Championships.
Hickory High girls — the defending PIAA Class AA titlists — will test the best from the biggest. And the Lady Hornets hope to give as good as they get from the 6-county competition.
Local tune up for districts at Mercer County Invite
There’s a difference between a warm-up and a warning.
If Saturday’s annual track & field invitational is any indication, Mercer County’s contingent issued a warning for the remainder of District 10: This could be a big year in area annals.
Roundup: Grace, GC beat Sharon, 4-0, in 5 innings
With an impending storm blowing in above Johnny Pepe Field time was limited, so Ryan Grace greedily gobbled up putouts.
Grove City High’s Grace gave up only 3 base hits, and the visiting Eagles eased to an abbreviated 4-0, 5-inning win over Sharon Friday afternoon.
HIGH SCHOOL SPRING SPORTS ROUNDUP: County track meet set Saturday at Hickory
The annual Mercer County Track & Field Invitational will be held at Hickory High’s Hornet Stadium Saturday, beginning at 9 a.m.
Competing are all Mercer County teams, Class AAA and AA, as well as Slippery Rock. The meet serves as a warm-up to the District 10 championships set next week at Harbor Creek High.
- More Sports Headlines
- Playoffs: GC, Hounds win; Reynolds, Sharpsville softball advance