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Rootstown sets forth proper procedure to hire coach for girls wrestling program

Rootstown sets forth proper procedure to hire coach for girls wrestling program


By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor

The proper procedure has begun to officially hire the first-ever coach of the Rootstown High School girls wrestling program.

The program is new to the district this season, with girls in previous seasons being part of the boys team.

The necessary procedure also resets the program overall, which temporarily halted all program activity on Monday and Tuesday after the coaches of Rootstown’s wrestling programs, at all levels from high school down to youth, voted to suspend program-wide activity.

The decision was a reaction to the Board of Education’s decision to not hire Jessica Eye as the high school wrestling head coach at Monday night’s monthly meeting.

By Wednesday, all of the wrestling programs were back to their regular schedule, including the middle school wrestlers competing in a road match, after the situation details were effectively communicated between the wrestling program coaches, the Board of Education and Rootstown Superintendent Andrew Hawkins.

Eye, who is a 2005 Rootstown graduate, rose to national fame as a successful mixed martial artist with the UFC, was on the board of education’s agenda on Monday as a recommended hire for the district’s first-ever girls only wrestling team.

However, Eye was not board approved, with the board unable to vote on her hiring status because the procedures to properly post the job position had not been followed as required by state law.

On Tuesday, Rootstown Superintendent Andrew Hawkins faulted himself for the failure to follow the proper procedures.

Hawkins said on Friday that discussions between all sides helped communicate to the wrestling program that the failure to hire any coach at Monday’s Board of Education meeting was centered on that procedural error first and foremost instead of a sign of lack of support for the girls wrestling program overall.

The Board of Education is scheduled to meet next on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024. That meeting is an organizational meeting designed to formally recognize board members for the next calendar year, as well as approve the 2024 meeting calendar — and not a meeting scheduled to review any formal issues such as approving a coach to be hired. At that meeting, the next January board meeting will be scheduled, which, seemingly, would be the first opportunity for the Board of Education to revisit the approval of a girls wrestling coach for the program — unless a special session meeting is scheduled before then.

In 2023, the Board of Education’s organizational meeting was Jan. 5, 2023, with the regularly scheduled January meeting was set for Jan. 23, 2023.

Eye was initially, but informally, announced as the Rootstown girls wrestling coach in a “Rootstown Wrestling” Facebook post on Nov. 13. At that time, Eye was not board approved for the position nor had the district established or posted the position and Eye had not been formally hired for the position.

The Rootstown girls wrestling program began its inaugural season last weekend (Saturday, Dec. 16) at the East Liverpool “Queen of the Hill” Tournament, which Eye and middle school head coach Craig Wise attended.

The Rovers placed eighth overall out of 21 teams.

Two days later, coaches of the wrestling program at all levels, announced a self-imposed suspension of “all activities on all levels” of the program in a unanimous 15-0 vote, which did not include votes from parents or student-athletes.

The decision was communicated in a group message to all parents in the program.

Editor’s Note: Rootstown’s four high school and middle school wrestling coaches are currently not under contract.

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