#Save The Red Dragons
BO Rein Stadium is directly in front of you, the arch and iron metal gates welcoming you into the home of the Red Dragons.
The sense of history envelops you quickly. The streak of 48-straight games without a loss in the 1960s, a state championship. Legendary figures like former coach Tony Mason.
The adjacent high school had its War Memorial Gymnasium, an ominous building with the window above shining in light — reminding you of those greats who once took to the hardwood.
Now, the light is gone, giving way to a smaller, more modern gymnasium. The statue of William McKinley stands tall, an imposing figure welcoming you to Niles McKinley High School.
It’s a school with a rich history, but the pride is long gone — marred with silly incidents by a moronic few.
Michael Cappuzzello, a veteran coach for about three decades, took over a Niles McKinley High School girls basketball program this year after Doug Foster left a thriving program to take over the boys team where his son is a sophomore.
Cappuzzello, who coached the Hubbard girls to a 17-6 record more than a decade ago, was last year’s Niles freshman boys coach. That Red Dragon team won an All-American Conference title, beating Poland for the first time since 1999. Really?
He wanted to help the Niles girls team in its time of need. Cappuzzello, who was coaching the girls tennis team and offered to coach softball, resigned on Dec. 11 — five games into the season.
Cappuzzello was constantly barraged by parents questioning playing time, going back to the preseason. This went further. Cappuzzello described a parent chest-bumping him, intimidating him in a hallway. He said he tried to move so it could be on camera.
Parents pestered him about playing time during practices, taking away from film study with his team.
He said there was no support from his team, coaching staff or even the scorekeeper, who, along with his wife, berated Cappuzzello about their daughter’s playing time, according to the former coach. That, along with many other incidents, led to his resignation.
Support? Where was it from this athletic department?
Athletic Director Marc Fritz said he didn’t know of any problems with Cappuzzello until he handed in his resignation.
Then, there’s pay to play. Some call it play to participate, forking about $100 per student because of budget cuts throughout the system.
Cappuzzello tried to appease his new team, which had everyone back on staff from the previous regime. That in itself led to problems as well.
Cappuzzello tried to go with a rotation of five in and five out to give this team depth. That wasn’t the way it was. His staff consisted of former Niles players in their early 20s, who played for Foster.
“I’m a truthful human being,” Cappuzello said. “What you see is what you get. I love to play people because I know it sucks sitting the bench.
“I know people are paying to play. They say it’s pay to participate. Bull crap. It’s pay to play.”
He’s gone and Niles seems to be sweeping this under the rug, like many other issues. You cannot anymore. Why should 95 percent of the people in this town suffer and be run by the idiot few? No wonder your school levies fail. It’s things like this that are magnified and good students, teachers and coaches are left feeling the ill effects. It’s not a good look.
It’s got to stop. Board of Education, take the reins. I implore you. For the good of your school system, control the people who are ruining it.
Make Niles great again. There was a movement in Columbus when its owner wanted to move the Crew, a Major League Soccer team, to Austin, Texas. The groundswell of support from fans was called #SaveTheCrew. It worked as the team is staying in Columbus.
Bring the pride back to Niles. Deal with your embarrassments.