City Desk

Another Spingarn Football Coach Leaves

Via Spingarn football coach Paris Adon won't be back next season.

I've been following that school's football woes for several years. There is probably a coaching job somewhere as bad as Spingarn's. But not worse. Can't be.

Adon, like every Spingarn coach I've met, had heroic qualities. I went to Spingarn's first football team meeting last summer. The Green Wave was coming off an 0-9 season, its first year with Adon as coach, and had been outscored 415-44.

Only 11 kids showed up that day, and a couple of them were ineligible to practice or participate in any extracurricular activities because of grades.

The scene depressed the crap outta me.

Adon was all smiles, however.

“Last year I had five,” Adon told me. “Welcome to Spingarn football!”

Adon, like all the others, came into the job against the advice of friends and family, and knowing the how awful the situation was. They all thought they could overcome the crap.

I remember talking to John "Junebug" Matthews in 2005, his first year as Spingarn coach. Only five players showed up for his first day of practice, also. The school didn't even give Matthews keys to the locker room or the practice field before the scheduled start of the season.

So Matthews had to break into his own practice field, and when he did he found that the only blocking sled was embedded a foot deep in mud. The Redskins had paid for a new football field for the school, but nobody knew how to use the sprinkler system, so it immediately went to hell. Matthews ended up forfeiting the first two games as head coach because he couldn't find 18 players to dress.

Matthews was out against his wishes a year later for not winning enough games.

Adon lasted just as long. Last year he told me he had implemented “a five-year plan” that would end with Spingarn winning at least seven games in a single season — nobody affiliated with the school could tell me the last time the Green Wave had even a winning season — and all his players getting passing grades.

He said he wouldn't leave until the goals had been met.

He was going to take care of the on-field tasks all by himself, as well as some of the off-field duties. Adon, for example, spent a lot of time fundraising for transportation costs so his kids could play a game in West Virginia.

But Adon told me he'd need a lot of help from school administrators to get his kids up to speed academically. Last year the Washington Post reported only 17 percent of Spingarn students passed the standardized math exam given all DCPS high school sudents. Just 19 percent passed the reading exam.

“I started a tutoring program here and went to teachers to ask for help, and a lot told me they’d help,” Adon told me last year.

None of the Spingarn teachers who'd said they'd tutor, Adon said, ever showed up.


So it's not just football players that don't show up at Spingarn.

photos by Darrow Montgomery

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  • Rob

    Why does it seem that the District actually wants young people in areas east of the park to fail? The Mayor and the City Council are interested more in helping developers and outside contractors succeed than addressing the needs of our children. When seemingly motivated and visionary individuals are brought in to this dysfunctional arena and then left to fend for themselves, something is seriously wrong. We need new leadership in this city that encourages, nurtures and sustains all positive efforts to save our young people from not only their toxic environments, but also from those who intend only to exploit them for political, personal and financial gain.

  • Dave McKenna

    Rob: paris adon and all the others are heroes. i've been writing basically the same story about dc coaches getting no support, and the kids paying the price, for years and years. and every time i write it, i want somebody to go to jail. the crap that dc coaches and kids who want to play sports in this city put up with, compared to what their peers in the suburbs do, is just maddening. in fairness to DCPS, it's not JUST coaches and athletes east of the park that get screwed. There only happens to be one high school west of the park, Wilson, but remember, the wilson baseball team, despite the dominance of the program, plays on a field with NO RIGHT FIELD. that's one example. i could go on all day. but, let's face it, rob: nobody cares. thanks for writing in.

  • Q

    Dave, people DO care, so keep writing your articles. Hopefully the right people, with the right resources can make a difference. When I've visited LA, FL, AL, MS, and other states, High School sports seems to dominate the airwaves...especially in little podunk towns. Heck, it's bigger in Howard County and BelAir, MD than it is here. I often wondered why it isn't as big in DC. It isn't because academics have overshadowed it. It isn't because of lack of parental interest. But maybe as your your constant articles suggest, it is because coaches or DCIAA not getting support is the reason.

    You are right, the stuff that happens to the coaches is C-R-I-M-I-N-A-L.

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    Very good..keep it up

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