by Malik Vincent
Jaylen Coleman, a first-team selection to the 2010 New Pittsburgh All-City football team and one of its best, will not play his senior season in the Pittsburgh Public School District. His former school, Peabody will close upon the conclusion of underclassman finals.
He will play his senior season at Gateway High School in the neighboring suburb of Monroeville, which is where Coleman’s family has recently moved.
“He’s obviously a physical specimen,” said Gateway’s head football coach Terry Smith. “He’s very athletic and can move. (Coming to Gateway), he will benefit from much better resources to provide him a much better opportunity in the future.”
Coleman was among the league leaders in tackles with 104 tackles—95 unassisted. He expects to see time on both sides of the ball, as he did at Peabody, at linebacker and running back.
“Coach Smith is the man,” Coleman said. “I love the coaching staff here. It feels like more of a college football type of atmosphere here at Gateway. I practiced with the first-team this morning and I’m learning the new system. It’s a lovely feeling.”
Coleman’s situation is just one of many. There are several things to be resolved with PPS facing athletic reform. There is still a lingering uncertainty of where kids in certain neighborhoods will play sports, namely football, this fall.
Last October, the Courier reported on the uncertain futures of several athletic programs in the district. One, in particular, was Schenley. They, along with Peabody, will close in just weeks.
“I’m totally upset that it has come down to this,” said Mark Brentley, District 8 school board member. “Using the Hill District as an example, (former superintendent Mark Roosevelt has) reconfigured the schooling structure there three times in four years. This decision has done nothing but hurt the students and it’s community.”
In that 2010 report, it was mentioned that three schools—University Prep, Sci-Tech 6-12, and Obama Academy—were looking to merge as one for football, starting in the 2011-12 season. According to an unnamed source, that plan is still intact.
In that plan, University Prep will be the new “U.S.O.” football team’s practice site, which is located in the Hill District. Sci-Tech is in nearby Oakland. But Obama will be housed in the old Reizenstein building in the city’s East End.
“It’s taken work to transport the kids for the past three years,” Schenley’s principal Sophia Facaros said. “The transportation issue has been taken into consideration but we have to participate in the co-op that was established in 2009 by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association with the three schools that participate in sports with us.”
UPrep is currently housed in the former Milliones Middle School and Sci-Tech is in the old Frick Intermediate. They both have non-regulation sized basketball courts and that will cause them to have to travel cross-town for that competition as well.
“‘I’d like to perhaps see UPrep and Sci-Tech have athletic traditions of their own,” Schenley’s athletic director Ken Saybel said. “They missed out the most because of the distance and the lack of identity that they currently have. But it may happen, depending how much support and participation they get.”
(Malik Vincent can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)