By Krystle S. Morey
After nearly two months of back-and-forth uncertainty, the Torres brothers, Mario and Aaron, are back on the gridiron at Granville High School.
“I’m just glad it’s over,” Mario said. “Our student athletes, our parents … the community, doesn’t really have to deal with it anymore.”
The Board of Education decided to rehire Mario as head varsity football coach for the fall season at its July 26 meeting.
“I think the superintendent making the recommendation, the board accepting it and voting on it is putting one foot in front of the other and starting to move forward,” Mario said. It’s really all we can do.”
After a meeting with school officials last Wednesday, Mario said he feels the district is moving in the right direction.
“At the end of the day, we have to be about kids and we have to do what’s best for kids,” Torres said. “We cannot be adult-centered in our approach, we have to be student-centered.”
Despite Mario’s reappointment, he and his brother have expressed concerns about the communication between administrators and coaches.
Mario said last week that he thinks the district is “moving in the right direction toward opening lines of communication.”
“I am a look-you-in-the-eye, in-your-face kind of guy,” Mario added. “Some people like that, some people don’t.”
“If this opens lines of communication and opens up people’s eyes to how effective communication can either help or ineffective communication can hurt, then it’s fine,” Mario said. “We just want to play football.”
He said the football controversy “is not something that is going to go away overnight, and it’s not something that is going to be forgotten.”
“It’s something that is going to take work, but it’s something where if all parties involved are working toward a common goal, you’ll get there a heck of a lot faster,” Mario said.
“I’m just excited to be out here,” he said. “I am excited for these guys, and I am excited to lead the blue and gold out onto the football field.”
Mario said throughout the back-and-forth of his appointment that he has continued to guide his team – with summer leagues and 7 on 7 games – as if he were their coach the whole time.
“I love our guys and I love being on the field,” Mario said.
“When and if they appointed somebody else, we would have stepped aside,” Mario said of both himself and Aaron.
More than 30 Granville kids attended last Wednesday’s summer camp practice, many of whom had never stepped foot on a field before.
Mario estimates that varsity football will start the season with a roster of more than 50. The team finished out last season with 27.
“Finishing last season with 27 and starting this year with 50-plus, that speaks volumes about where we are headed as a program,” he said.
“Adult matters are adult matters and they shouldn’t be put on the kids,” Mario said. “We did everything that we could to make sure that our kids were not affected by the actions of adults.”
Aaron said he was not only frustrated with the process but with the administration’s leaving his family’s questions, and those questions of parents, community members, and the players unanswered.
The board’s decision came a mere three weeks before the start of the fall 2016 season.
Many players said the back-and-forth and uncertainty of the situation was a distraction leading up to the regular season.
“Distraction is an understatement,” Aaron said.
Aaron Torres was hired at the May 31 meeting as the assistant varsity football coach with a $3,255.26 stipend.
“I have no words to express the frustration I have about this whole situation,” Aaron said before the July 26 meeting at which his brother was rehired as head coach with a stipend of $4,340.30.
Aaron said if his brother hadn’t been reappointed this season he would have had a very tough decision to make between his family and the Granville football family.
“I am truly torn,” Aaron said before the July 26 meeting. “There is an undoubted loyalty and commitment to these kids … there’s a loyalty to my family too. My loyalty to both will be put to the test.”
Mario and Aaron agreed that the coaching uncertainty leading up to this year’s season has helped to not only fire up the players, but the community as well.
“The guys have a little bit of a chip … and I like it. When all of the dust settles and smoke clears, our guys are stronger because of what happened,” he said. “They learned a very valuable lesson and I think it brought them even closer together.”
The two said that the camaraderie will likely bring more folks to the sidelines this season.
“We are going to do everything we can to put the best-quality product on the field,” Mario said.
Granville has seven games scheduled, the first a home game against Hoosic Valley on Sept. 3.
“We are fired up about all of them,” Mario said. “We play each week to go 1-0.”
Mario has said since the beginning of the football coaching controversy that it was never about his reappointment.
“It’s about doing what’s right for kids,” Mario said.
Mario said the players are relieved.
He said he stayed quiet as far as his comments on the appointment after this initial recommendation was pulled from the agenda, because he didn’t want it to be about him.
“I didn’t want it to give any kind of perception to anybody that my presence or my involvement was going to affect how our kids behave or how they reacted,” Mario said.
Mario said the months-long football controversy validates what he and his brother have done with the Granville football program for the last decade and a half. He said he was pleased to see current players, parents and football alumni stand up and let administrators know what they wanted.
“Life’s never going to be easy,” he said. “Things are going to knock you down in life and you’re going to be challenged in life.
It’s how you respond in the face of that adversity that ultimately is going to determine how successful you are going to be.”
“If everybody learns something from this whole thing and if everybody grows a little bit … then it was worth it,” Mario said.
On Aug. 11, there is a mandatory meeting for all fall athletes, parents and coaches.
The team’s first official practice is Aug. 15 on the practice field next to the football field.