Several years ago, Wanda Oates was appointed the first high school athletic director in the Washington metropolitan area. This summer -- for one day at least -- she was the first woman head football coach at Ballou High School.
"I applied because of the new challenge it would present and the opportunity to accomplish what all of the other coaches before me failed to achieve -- win a football title," said Oates, who has won numerous other team championships in her 20 years at Ballou. "I'm definitely qualified to be the coach. I know enough football to be a coach, although certainly I've never played the game. But you don't have to be a male to be a good football coach."
Oates probably won't get the chance. Frank Young, who coached the team in 1984, apparently was reappointed the coach. Young, a temporary physical education teacher, received a letter of termination as a teacher June 30. A day later, he received a letter of reassignment to Ballou as a temporary physical education teacher. Young never got a letter telling him he was relieved of his football coaching duties.
Ballou Principal Helena Jones, who appointed Oates coach, was on vacation and unavailable for comment. Assistant Principal Lloyd Williams said he had no idea who the coach was but insisted the appropriate person would be on the field when practice begins Aug. 15.
"No one ever told me I was not the coach. I never got anything in writing," Young said. "The principal never told me or gave me anything formally. As far as I was concerned, I was still the coach. The contract is for three years and this would be my second year coming up. I heard rumors Ms. Oates was applying to be the coach, but I wasn't around so I didn't think much about it."
Oates said she wasn't disappointed over Young's reappointment, but was noncommittal over what action she may take.
"I may decide to pursue the matter or I may just decide to forget about it," Oates said. "I never expected to get the job, anyway. I knew something would happen."
Andrew Jenkins, the deputy superintendent of D.C. Public Schools, said Young would have been reappointed, anyway, and wasn't aware of any coaching problems.
"Frank Young is the coach. I thought once he was reappointed as a teacher, he would remain the coach," Jenkins said yesterday. "I don't know anything about Oates being named the coach."
Interhigh League Athletic Director Otto Jordan said he had no idea who the Ballou coach was since no one from the school was at the summer football meeting last week.
"I just know no one from Ballou was present at the meeting," Jordan said. "I have no say in the selection of coaches and only get involved upon request. I have not been asked anything concerning Ballou."