Sometimes this coaching business, which can be fun and a real pain as well, has to take a back seat to one's personal life.
No one wasmore dedicated to coaching and determined to succeed than ArchbishopSpalding's Greg Fuhrman.
If time and effort guaranteed wins, then Fuhrman would have been undefeated. But unfortunately, his Cavaliers managed only two wins, and after two seasons, he has resigned as head football coach at Spalding.
It's not that the guy is giving up a hopeless situation, it'sjust that Fuhrman decided to get his priorities in order and not continue making sacrifices while a handful of parents interferred.
"To be honest with you, it was a trying situation for me, and I feel that I have to be a little more responsible in my personal life," said Fuhrman. "Kim (his wife) and I are expecting our first baby in April,and the one-hour commute to Spalding every day was getting to be a little much."
Fuhrman teaches at Old Mill Middle School North, but lives in Westminster in Carroll County, a long haul from Spalding in Severn.
Succeeding Gary Lyle as head football coach two years ago,Fuhrman became the Cavaliers' third head coach in their brief history. Joseph "Doc" Bartlinski started the program in 1985 with Lyle as an assistant. When Doc stepped down after the 1986 season, Lyle took the reins and kept them through the 1989 season.
Fuhrman stepped into a difficult situation with the program then struggling. He inherited a team that had gone 0-9 in 1989 and had not won a game since Oct.15, 1988 -- by 38-0 over Friends of Baltimore.
His first team didn't win a game, going 0-8-1, tying Douglass of Baltimore, 0-0, in thesecond game of the season. That tie snapped a 13-game losing streak,but the winless string continued into this season and reached 27 games until the Cavs upset Southwestern of Baltimore, 13-12, on Saturday, Oct. 19.
That was the highlight of Fuhrman's brief career at Spalding, but when the initial joy wore off, the perplexities of his jobremained, namely interferring parents.
Those problems persisted even after a second win on Nov. 2, by 7-6, over Archbishop Curley in East Baltimore.
"There were two or three parents who complained about things I did and how I coached," said Fuhrman. "It got to be quitedemanding on my life when the phone calls at home at night started to increase, and it even got to the point where some of them were giving Kim a hard time.
"Nobody gets rich from this, and it got to thepoint where it was no longer enough to keep going."
Fuhrman refused to name any of the second-guessers, but said they were a major factor in his final decision. He also hinted that he might be interestedin the Westminster High job.
There is also a good possibility that Fuhrman might end up back at Annapolis as an assistant to Roy Brown, which is the job he held before moving to Spalding.
Brown told me recently that "we might have a few surprises on our staff for next year."
In reading a prepared statement, Archbishop Spalding athletic director Domenic Pachence said, "I regret Greg's decision to resign. He came here with a great deal of enthusiasm and desire to build awinning program."
Pachence's statement only alluded to the parental pressure charged by Fuhrman as "the challenge of armchair quarterbacks" every coach must deal with.
In further discussion, Pachence admitted it may be a tendency of parents at parochial and private schools to get involved more than they have a right to simply because they pay tuition.
"I get the impression in talking to faculty at other private schools that parents who pay tuition feel they can be moreinvolved, and that's not just in athletics, but in other school organizations, too," Pachence said.
But, he said, "My dealings over 17years with the parents here at Spalding have been good."
Pachencewas truly disappointed to lose Fuhrman so soon, saying, "The ideal situation is to have a coach who stays 10 to 15 years.
"Maybe the success of baseball at Spalding is the fact that I coached for 12 years (before retiring to become full-time athletic director). You don't like having to replace coaches every two years, no."
Finding a replacement based on the team's last few dismal years and Fuhrman's pointing to interferring parents would seem to make the Spalding post less than attractive.
I asked Pachence if the school has considered dropping the football program.
"No chance of that," answered Pachence, who cited small numbers as a drawback to the fall sport.
"We've had limited numbers come out for football while soccer is very, very popular here at Spalding. Greg only had 30 kids to work with, and every one of those kids stayed with him the whole way through.
"It wasn't like kids quit, but he didn't have many to start with. I guessif there is a problem with football, that would be it, limited numbers. But even Greg made some strides in that respect with more kids onthe roster than we've had in the past."
Pachence said he and principal Barbara Schweitzer won't start searching or interviewing for a replacement until after Thanksgiving.
I asked Pachence about a rumor floating around in coaching circles that Fred Kaiss, who recently resigned as head coach at Southwestern, could be a prime candidate for the vacancy.
Kaiss resigned after two seasons at the Baltimore school after strong philosophical differences with his principal.
Kaiss teaches at the Applied Technology Center North, located only a couple miles from Spalding.
"I guess everybody would be a consideration," Pachence said.
Kaiss told me yesterday that he didn't know if he would want the job, but added, "I might be interested in talking to them, but I have nothing lined up at the moment."
He was a Brooklyn Park assistant to Dave Summey before moving to Southwestern when Summey took the South River job. Kaiss said he has put in applications at Westminster and Eastern Vo-Tech.
Apparently the main problem at Southwestern for Kaiss, who went 5-4 and 6-3 in his two years with the Sabres, was the close relationship between the principal and JV football coach.
"I got support from my athletic director, but not the principal, and just got tired of it," said Kaiss, who didn't enjoy the control of the program nearly all head coaches do.
"Therewere more juniors on our JV than there were on the varsity, and thatwasn't my preference, believe me."
He would have that control at Spalding, and that's what might eventually draw him to that job if nothing else comes up.
Meanwhile, Pachence has a tough job ahead in finding a replacement willing to start the way Fuhrman had to start -- from the ground-floor up.
Let's hope whoever eventually takes the position will get it straight with the parents right away to keep their noses out of it. The new coach should refuse to discuss footballwith them.
Talking about personal problems is one thing, but discussing personnel decisions and strategy with parents is a mistake at the high school and college level. The parents ought to keep their distance.
I think too many parents forget that high school sports are no longer recreation, and everybody wants to win at the higher level. A coach, such as Greg Fuhrman, needs to run his own program.
And when it gets to the point of driving an hour home every night thinking about nothing but problems and then having to listen to more on the phone when you walk in the door, it takes all the fun out of it.
It even takes away a guy's heart, and it's too bad it happened thisway to Fuhrman because I really think he eventually would have gotten the program on track.