, Muskogee, OK

July 23, 2013

Voicing their opinions: Supporters of former MHS wrestling coach protest

By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer

— On the eve of the hiring of a new wrestling coach at Muskogee High School, supporters of former coach Bobby Jefferson gathered outside the BEST Center on Monday to voice their disapproval of Jefferson’s removal.

That hiring is scheduled to take place at a 9 a.m. board meeting.

“We want the school board and the superintendent to know what they did is wrong,” said Terrye Dobbins, organizer of the protest and Jefferson’s sister. “There’s not one other applicant from Oklahoma because of respect for what the Jeffersons have done for the Muskogee program and the wrestlers.”

Dobbins’ assertion on the candidates could not be confirmed.

The group was not only protesting the removal of Jefferson as wrestling coach, it was also voicing its approval of MHS associate coach Dan Jefferson, a son of the ousted coach, as the replacement. The group swarmed Dan as he made his entrance into the building for his interview with the committee.

“We want Danny to know we support him,” Dobbins said. “We’re also here to get people to open their eyes.”

Muskogee Public Schools superintendent Mike Garde is head of the search committee that will make its recommendation from five applicants this morning to the board. As Garde approached the BEST Center, the group made it clear its disapproval of the whole process.

“As superintendent, I support our wrestling program,” Garde said. “And I want what’s best for that program. And that’s what we’re looking for. Bobby’s son is one of the applicants and our goal is to find the best person.”

Between 15-20 protesters showed up to express their displeasure, some from outside the Muskogee area. Jim Shields, a teacher and assistant wrestling coach at Jenks High School, has known Bobby for 20 years and respects the former Muskogee coach and current MHS athletic director.

“I think what’s going on here is fairly unjust,” Shields said. “It makes no sense to fix something that’s not broken.”

Dawaylon Barnes, a senior-to-be on the Roughers’ wrestling squad, was not only at the BEST Center to offer support for his former coach but to protest the entire process.

“I’m out here fighting for what is right,” Barnes said. “In my opinion, you don’t get rid of somebody whose done things right. Our great accomplishments that have happened in the past years has because of one person.

“I want to keep it going. Even if we can’t Bobby J., we can still have his protege, Dan Jefferson.”