Two sophomore Camden Catholic High School football players have come out in support of fired head coach Nick Strom, who says he was terminated Monday because he had too many black players on his roster.
The two players, who are both African-American, told NJ Advance Media that the coach’s firing is indicative of underlying racial tension at the school, which they say manifests itself in black students being treated much differently than their white counterparts.
Strom disputes that he was fired as the football and golf coach, and put on administrative leave from his position as a history teacher, because of administrative misconduct as school administrators contend. He said they simply wanted fewer black players on the football team.
“I think this is from me not conforming with their viewpoints on what they want the student body and the football team to look like,” Strom said. “I’ve tried to build this program into one that’s based on kids being of ability, high character and high grades. From day one, the administration told me they did not approve of the ratio of black to white students.”
School officials, meanwhile, deny Strom’s accusations.
“None of that statement is true. I don’t want the public to say that’s who we are,” School president Mary Whipkey said. “I want people in the outside world to know this is a very special place. This totally distorts who we are.”
One of the players speaking out for Strom, All Non-Public League linebacker Tirek Austin-Cave, said the incident has exposed the school’s problems with race.
“Camden Catholic’s true colors are exposed,” he said. “I’ve always felt black students were treated differently than Caucasians. I always talked to Coach Strom about why teachers would act like this. He couldn’t answer that.”