Coach Says High School Fired Him For Not Having Enough White Players

Nick Strom, a coach at a Catholic high school in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, is standing up against his termination from his teaching position.

A New Jersey high school football and golf coach is alleging he lost his job because he didn’t have enough white students on his team.

Nick Strom, who is also a history teacher at Camden Catholic High School in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, said that he received a handful of comments from administrators about there not being enough Caucasian players on the team.

Strom said that school President Mary Whipkey tried to discuss the issue “10 to 20 times” since he was hired as the coach five years ago.

Race was often one of the first things discussed when new players joined the football team, Strom added.

“When I’d have a list of potential freshmen, the first question I’d be asked is if they were white or black,” he said. “I was confused about why the question was, ‘How can we get more white players in the program or on the field?’.”

The team is made up of about half minority students, according to Strom.

“I’ve tried to build this program into one that’s based on kids being of ability, high character, and high grades,” he said.

In addition to losing his coaching positions, Strom was placed on administrative leave from his teaching duties for the remainder of the school year.

On Monday, Strom’s players came out in support of their coach.

“You need to open up your mind to different things, even your prejudice issues,” student athlete Matthew Davis said. “It may not be all of you, but you need to open your mind up to all the kids that are here, whether it be white, black, any ethnicity that you are. We want to be one community.”

The school said it would refuse to discuss personnel matters, but CBS3 out of Philadelphia got their hands on a copy of the letter that Strom received from the school. In it, the school suggested that the decision to remove him was based out of his professional conduct while teaching — including wearing sneakers instead of professional shoes more fitting for his role and confronting another teacher in front of students.

Tyrone Bellford, Strom’s former coach, said those allegations are just a means to punish him for not adhering to the administration's desire for a more white team.

“I think this is all to cover up the fact that they can’t say what really the problem is,” Bellford said.

It isn’t difficult to see why Strom’s old coach believes as much. Teachers regularly wear comfortable footwear, like sneakers, all the time, and to suggest Strom’s coaching and teaching duties were compromised because of something as simple as that should cast doubts over the motivations for why he was placed on leave.

The Diocese of Camden said they’re looking into the matter further. They should do a thorough investigation and determine whether disciplinary action against Strom was justified or not. They should also investigate what appears to be blatantly racist attitudes of the high school’s administrators and take the appropriate action to deal with that problem as well.

Banner/thumbnail image credit: KeithJJ/Pixabay

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