Willie Stewart and Tommy Hargrove, the football coaches at Eastern and Ballou, respectively, spent a frustrating Wednesday morning riding from place to place trying to find the answer to one question.
"I'd just like to know where I'll be teaching in the fall," said an irate Hargrove, who after nine years at the Southeast high school has been transferred because of the citywide teacher cutbacks.
"As far as I'm concerned, I'm still at Ballou, although everyone has told me I'm not on the roll anymore. I have enough time in the system to get another teaching job somewhere, so I wasn't worried about losing my job. I'd like to stay at Ballou, naturally, but if not, I wish someone would tell me where I'm going to be."
Both Stewart, who unofficially has been transferred to H. D. Woodson, and Hargrove planned to be at their former schools this morning to hold their first football practices of the fall. How long they will be coaching, neither knows. All the schools, except Eastern and Ballou, already have football coaches. Then, too, there is the problem of old loyalties and, as Stewart said, "a conflict of interest."
"If I have to go to Woodson, it would be pretty tough to coach at Eastern," said Stewart, who, like Hargrove, had doubled as his school's athletic director. "That's too much of a conflict . . . we (Eastern) play Woodson for homecoming.
"I'm going on as if nothing has happened. I'm hoping something can be worked out so I can stay at Eastern."
The teacher cutbacks and transfers have thrown the school system into chaos. Many teacher-coaches either have been transferred or fired, leaving several schools without qualified coaches in some sports.
Interhigh League Athletic Director Otto Jordan said yesterday he did not know the exact number of coaches lost or transferred in the big shuffle.
"Many teachers who received pink slips have been rehired already, so it's hard to tell who's where right now," Jordan said. "It's also too early to tell just how much this will affect our program."
An informal survey taken yesterday revealed that four of the 15 league football coaches have been replaced.McLinton Brown at McKinley and John Nunn at Cardozo were fired in the cutbacks and Alan Chinn at Anacostia and Ed Torrence at Bell stepped aside for personal reasons.
Maurice Pope will coach at McKinley, Carey Gambrill at Bell, Larry Crawford at Anacostia and Frazier O'Leary at Cardozo.
Nunn first was replaced by Rick Jones, who was dean of students at Cardozo. Jones held spring practice and was all set for today's session beford he, too, was notified he was being terminated. O'Leary, the baseball and girls basketball coach, then took over.
"Do you actually think anyone downtown knows what they're doing?" one coach asked. "They may as well draw names out of a hat. Some of these same people fired were rehired the next day. What's going on here? No one suffers but the kids."
The system seems to have done the biggest injustice to Brown. The well-liked, personable Brown has coached boys and girls track, boys and girls basketball and football, and supervised the cheerleaders, when no one else would, during his nine years at McKinley.
"Yes, I'm aware I've done a lot but obviously that doesn't count for much." Brown said. "I'm just sitting in limbo waiting for something, anything, to happen. It seems a lot of coaches who got pink slips were the younger ones who were willing to work. Things are pretty tight now. I can deal with the fact I'm not coaching, but not having any job at all is rough."
While the football coaches are busying themselves with getting ready for the upcoming season, another cloud is gathering over their heads. Budget cuts also may eliminate coaching salaries. Many coaches say they will work for free.
"I can't live on $900, anyway," said Jim Tillerson, football coach of Theodore Roosevelt. "What's $900 compared to some people without jobs? That's what disturbs me most. Most of us will work for nothing, so it's not a money thing so most of us.
"Fortunately, many of the football coaches have been around long enough not to be effected by this. But there are others who will be hit hard. eAnd it has to have a psychological effect on the kids."
Stewart, who has coached Eastern to two. Interhigh crowns in the last four years, is bitter about the possible switch to another school but understands the situation.
"I know about the money problems," said Stewart, who has taught accounting nine years at Eastern. "Now, my wife is really upset. She taught elementary school nine years and she was fired. I have three sons so I guess I should be glad I at least still have a job."
As of late yesterday, neither Stewart nor Hargrove had heard anything from their respective regional office.
"There is a possibility another business teacher might want to voluntarly leave Eastern and transfer to Woodson," said Stewart. "That's would solve the problem. Meanwhile, I have to get my team at Eastern together."