The Bayonne City Council saw an outcry of support for former High School Head Football Coach Dwayne Williams, who did not get his contract renewed by the board of education at the end of last year following a brawl on the field at the end of October.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
Abraham Mitchell spoke in Williams’ favor, noting he was the first African American in that position.
“Coach Williams has made a difference in their lives. They can relate to him,” he said.
Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski, a declared mayoral challenger, noted she attended the board of education meeting in December as well as that the council is not privy to any further information than the public..
“We didn’t receive any report or information from the board of education. They’re not allowed to. It’s a separate entity,” she explained.
Elijah Ortiz said many who see football as their only way to a better life looked up to Williams, asking about what happened with the security hired for the October 29th game against Barringer High School where fights broke out.
“We don’t have that control. We can certainly ask questions,” Nadrowski replied.
“I am going to try to inquire and find out,” added 3rd Ward Councilman Gary La Pelusa said.
Nevertheless, several others continued to talk up Williams, who was a standout player in high school and college.
“One fight does not define this man … You guys have the power to give this man the opportunity he deserves,” stated Gerald Baker.
“I’m absolutely impressed regarding the many speakers in favor of Williams. The council meetings get all the attention and the school board meetings do not,” added 1st Ward Councilman Neil Carroll.
La Pelusa again noted that the school board doesn’t answer to the council and that they therefore have no involvement in personnel decisions.
“No coach has helped me the way Coach Williams has. It’s not fair to the kids that we get new coaches every season. He cares about the youth and our future,” said Javonne Stevens, who noted that Williams was only hired last summer.
Additionally, Chuck Waldron said he represented the High School Football Players Alumni Association. He asked what Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis thought of the issue and the council said they could not speak on his behalf.
“I don’t think this passes the smell test … Although some of the players were punished for what they did in the fights, not one coach was reprimanded or fired. If that’s the reasoning, it shouldn’t be,” he argued.
Waldron also claimed that Barringer’s coach admitted his team started the fight, using a helmet as a weapon against younger players.
“Dwayne is a great coach: he has an amazing resume,” he said, receiving a great deal of applause from others as he walked away from the podium.
Sean Hill said he has coached youth football in Bayonne for 27 years and was in contact with Williams for most of that time, claiming he was set up for failure.
“His whole dream was coming back to here. From day one they had him walking on eggshells. They never wanted Dwayne on the job The security for Bayonne High School was non-existent because the head of security wasn’t there. What has been done here has been an injustice,” Hill exclaimed.
He also claimed a baseball coach should be in trouble for worse situations, one of which involved a gun.
“Dwayne is the right person for the job. Somebody doesn’t want Dwayne there,” chimed in Gary Gustavo.
Councilman-at-Large Juan Perez commended the passion of Williams’ supporters.
“I think you kids did a great job. I’m inquiring also,” adding that he would make several calls about the situation to applause from the room.
At the December 21st BOE meeting, counsel said they were accepting the recommendations of the Super Football Conference report on the incident, though an attorney for Williams said the report didn’t recommend his termination.