Whidden’s Warriors

Joey Higginbotham, Staff Writer

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After Barnstable High School varsity football coach Chris Whidden was released from his coaching duties in December of 2017, there was a resounding statement from the players, fans, and residents of Barnstable who campaigned to bring Whidden back, including a meeting of the school committee where former players, teachers, and current players gave their thoughts on their coach. One of those players was team captain Ryan Welsh, a senior at Barnstable High School who played for three years under Whidden.

“Coach Whidden is a role model to me personally and everyone that played on the team or had the privilege to be in one of his classes. He was a great coach. People sometimes get lost in the overall win-loss statistics but no one knows what he did behind the scenes. Coach would always prepare game film and helped student athletes getting recruited,” Welsh said. 

There is more to coaching a football team than winning or losing. Hours of preparation is put in each week to help the team as much as possible. It would also seem that Whidden got the most out of his players, as many of them spoke supportingly of Whidden at the school committee meeting. Whidden said, “To see people involved in my life show that emotion was very humbling and overwhelming.” 

Barnstable High School junior Matthew Fredo, a varsity football player, said, “I have only played on varsity for one season and although we had a losing record, we had one of the most challenging schedules in the state and still managed to make the playoffs. We ended up losing in the playoffs in a close game to the team that eventually won the championship.”

  To still be in a close contest with one of the best teams in the state is a huge accomplishment. Also, at the school committee meeting, many players, parents, and teachers  cited that there wasn’t a clear reason for Whidden being fired. He is one of the most successful football coaches in Barnstable’s history. And he is one of only two coaches to bring the team to 10 or more wins.

“I was surprised there was no real explanation as to why he was fired. I don’t think anyone expected it; he’s a well-liked man by everyone in our community,” Welsh said.

Many people at the meeting brought up Whidden’s successes as a teacher at Barnstable as well as being a coach. Some brought up the point that being able to have a great coach who is also a great teacher is something you don’t find very often. Many others and specifically former players mentioned how their football careers took off because of Coach Whidden.

Whidden said his favorite part while coaching was “Seeing young players develop from their freshman year through the collegiate level and professional life beyond football. And creating long lasting relationships with members of the community.”

The current players are still surprised as to why Chris Whidden was removed as their coach.

Fredo says “if there was a reason, I was not made aware of it, neither were most, if not all the players I spoke to.”

The school system has posted the job opening for a varsity football coach for the 2018 season. However, athletic director Scott Thomas declined to comment on Whidden’s dismissal or the plans for a new coach, citing confidentiality as it’s an ongoing matter.