High School Football

Meridian settling differences, getting back to football

Meridian played Mount Baker on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014 at Meridian High School.
Meridian played Mount Baker on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014 at Meridian High School. The Bellingham Herald

Myriad rumors have swirled about regarding what prompted Meridian to forfeit its non-league game against Squalicum last weekend.

Meridian returned to the practice field Monday before completing another practice Tuesday, Sept. 15, and after practice Athletic Director Kurt Harvill offered an explanation on what’s transpired the past six days.

Last Thursday morning, Sept. 10, Harvill said players approached him with a list of concerns, central to those included communication issues and practice length.

“They took (their concerns) to the coaching staff, and then they came in with a list of concerns they wanted addressed,” Harvill said during a phone interview. “We arranged Thursday afternoon to have a meeting where the students would talk to the coaches and express concerns, and Friday we had a meeting where the coaches could talk to the students. A lot of it came down to communication on both sides.”

While Harvill admitted practice length had been brought to his attention in the past, other existing issues caught him off guard and left the administration scrambling to streamline an action plan to get players and coaches on the same page.

Harvill said Meridian has a practice policy in place in which student-athletes must attend a certain amount of practices in order to suit up for games. With an unspecified amount of players absent from Thursday and Friday practices last week, Harvill said Meridian would not have had enough players to field a team against Squalicum.

“Communication has to start earlier, so that events that took place don’t happen again,” Harvill said. “We took a chance from Squalicum to compete that night. We took that away from them.”

Harvill likened the situation to a family argument, suggesting both sides need to communicate in a way that make the family stronger.

As for practice lengths, Harvill said Meridian coach Bob Ames and his staff have listened to the players and have adjusted practice lengths accordingly both Monday and Tuesday.

“I think when you have a system that has been successful as Meridian has been in the past, sometimes you do the things you do and sometimes change isn’t a bad deal,” said Harvill, regarding Ames’ practice lengths. “But coach Ames said, ‘You guys are right,” and he’s held to his word. The past two days, practices have been shorter.”

Harvill said no members of the coaching staff have been removed. And from his observation no players have left, either.

“I can tell you on Monday we were not sure if all (the players) would come back, but all have come back,” Harvill said. “I think it’s turned into a normal week here, and they had a team meeting Monday, went over this week’s opponent, and they have been out practicing and getting ready for the game in Chelan.”

Moving forward, Harvill said the football program is a one-day-at-a-time approach, and while Harvill admitted it’s been stressfull for everyone involved, he’s hoping both the players and coaches can use quarrel as a learning experience.

The Trojans are scheduled to face Chelan on the road at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18.

Here’s a video about the Meridian situation produced Monday by KOMO News:

Here is a link to an interview Meridian Superintendent Tom Churchill did with 790 KGMI radio.