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BPS coaches react to bus drivers' action

Posted by Justin Rice  October 8, 2013 02:59 PM

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Perhaps nobody understands the plight of the Boston Public School bus drivers better than BPS coaches.

At the same time, nobody is more frustrated by Tuesday morning’s sudden bus driver strike that led to the cancellation of all BPS games and practices for the afternoon and left the remainder of the week’s games up in the air.

While coaches have sympathy for drivers trying to get teams to games and practices on time during snarled rush-hour traffic, they are also frustrated by regularly delayed and broken-down buses that can leave their teams waiting on the sideline for hours.

“It’s an unfortunate situation,” said Charlestown volleyball coach Tony Gearcy, whose game against Boston English was postponed. “But at the same time, the bus drivers are human beings like me and you and they’re entitled to their own rights.

“But it’s definitely an unfortunate situation.”

The drivers' action Tuesday morning affected more than 30,000 students and resulted in four girls’ soccer games, one boys’ soccer game, and four volleyball matches being postponed.

"I'm sure that there are a lot of disappointed kids across the city who are missing their games," said O'Bryant volleyball coach Gertrude Fisher, whose game against Dorchester was postponed.

Now coaches are worried that games won’t be played at all this week.

“I am very concerned,” said Brighton football coach Randolph Abraham, whose 4-0 team is scheduled to play South Boston Friday, via email. “If they canceled practices for today, then it is not looking good for Friday.”

BPS athletics director Kenneth Still said any canceled games will be rescheduled, and as of early afternoon, he was trying to lobby the central administration to allow teams to practice if they don’t rely on buses to get to their sites.

But even though Latin Academy is walking distance to its practice field, football coach Rocco Zizza said he was forced to cancel practice anyway because the central administration had already said “all athletic events" were canceled.

It is frustrating, said Zizza, "especially because it’s such a beautiful day, too. It’s kind of ridiculous, but welcome to the city of Boston. It seems like we shoot ourselves in the foot sooner or later in the city of Boston.”

Zizza said his team could even walk to White Stadium for its game against Burke Friday afternoon if need be.

“The other schools are a different story,” Zizza said.

Schools such as East Boston and New Mission in Hyde Park suffer the most because they are located so much farther from their practice fields and opponents’ fields than other schools, which can be problematic for bus drivers.

“From East Boston to Hyde Park, and, yes, their job is to be on time,” said New Mission athletics coordinator Cory McCarthy. “But at the same time, if you are telling us you can be on time, be on time.”

Twice this season, McCarthy said, the bus for his girls’ soccer team didn’t show up.

McCarthy said if the work stoppage drags on, the students will be the ones who suffer in the long run.

“I just think it’s poor strategy on their part,” he said of the bus drivers. “I understand how they feel. In some cases, I see what the bus drivers go through and the hard time they have dealing with the unpredictable traffic and obstacles.

“There’s a lot of obstacles and pressure to be on time. I just think their frustration led to poor strategy. There’s a better way for their voices to be heard than to walk out on the kids. They are not hurting adults. Adults get paid but some kids are losing out on education.”

Globe correspondent Ryan Butler contributed to this report.

Justin A. Rice covers Boston Public School athletics. He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.

About Boston Public Schools Sports Blog

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Several reporters, editors and correspondents contribute updates, news and features to the BPS Sports Blog:
  • Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
  • Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at butler.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.
Also expect updates from Boston.com High School sports editor Zuri Berry and the Globe staff.