Wanda Oates, who was named football coach at Ballou High School in June and then relieved of her duties within 24 hours of the appointment, said yesterday she has reconsidered the situation and will go out on the field today and assume the position.
There might be one problem, though: Frank Young, who coached the team last year and then was rehired to replace Oates, says he will stay on the job.
"I was officially appointed the coach and I've decided I want to serve in the position," said Oates, who, should she be reappointed, would become the nation's first female high school football coach, according to the National Federation of High Schools Association.
"I felt I should have had the job in the beginning," Oates said. "Today at 3, I'm going out on the field and assume leadership of the team. I don't anticipate any problems with the kids, but I suppose it might be a bit messy."
Oates, who was appointed the first female athletic director in the metropolitan area and has won numerous girls' championships in her 20 years at the Southeast Washington school, said she has a staff of assistants ready to begin work.
Principal Helena Jones said she also plans to be on the field today.
"I'm very concerned about the impact this will have on the kids, the community, etc," Jones said. "I expect Ms. Oates to be out there and it's very hard to anticipate what the kids will do . . .
"Ms. Oates handed me a letter yesterday stating her intentions . . . I thought when Ms. Oates didn't pursue the issue during the summer, it was over. When the deputy superintendent stepped in, I was out of it."
Young said he had no knowledge of Oates' decision and planned to continue his duties.
"We play a game Friday (at Carver in Baltimore) and we are preparing for it," he said. "I hadn't heard anything about this until you mentioned it."
Jones, who named Oates coach when no one at the school applied for the job at the end of classes in June, said she thought the issue was settled when Young was named coach by Deputy Superintendent Andrew Jenkins.
In the D.C. school system, all temporary teachers are fired each June and rehired as warranted.
Young, a temporary physical education teacher, was relieved of his teaching duties June 30. He was rehired July 1. Young said he never received notification he had been relieved of his coaching duties and assumed when he was rehired as a teacher, he still was the coach.
When Jenkins said Young was still the coach, Oates said she would abide by his decision but might pursue the matter in the near future. Oates refused to say why she decided to do so.