The Rise & Fall of Hedgesville Football
Three years ago, Joey Yurish was named head football coach of Hedgesville High School. He began his reign with at least ten assistant coaches and today, only one remains.
According to an assistant that recently quit, “Leaving was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life.” That coach left because of the structure and discipline of the program. Yurish runs a ship that is less about building up and more about tearing down, it seems.
One parent of a player on his team (who later changed schools) said that after they lost big to Martinsburg High School, Yurish threw a trash bag at his son and told him to get the F**K out of the locker room. Another player was told to get the F**K off the field in front of the referees and spectators. When the first boy’s dad went to Principal Lyons, the response was, “What do you want me to do about it?”
Another assistant coach shared stories of belittling, dominating the way that Yurish talks and treats his players. “There was no respect- you need to get on their level and teach them what they did wrong.”
A parent shared that at a team dinner, Yurish referred to his sons as Dumb and Dumber. Just yesterday, Yurish announced a student’s 1.72 GPA to the entire class.
The board of the football booster club walked away after Yurish became hostile when questioned regarding expenses and the funds which seemed to disappear.
In one case, a member of the community donated a plethora of sports equipment to the booster club and what was not used was to be sold. Instead, equipment disappeared and Yurish admitted to giving it to friends and keeping some for himself. He said, “I’ll pay for it, if you need me to,” but never did. Unauthorized, he also cashed checks and offered to pay that back. He never did.
“Why don’t you trust me?” Yurish would ask when encouraged to be accountable. When the IRS sent a letter regarding a penalty for taxes not being filed, he asked for bonuses before sharing that letter with the Board.
Behavior and allegations of thiefdom are destroying not only a football program, but a community who trusted a coach and administrators to care for their children. Today, Michael Turner- the best offensive lineman at Hedgesville- started at Martinsburg High School. His teammate and former captain, Malakai Brown, will be joining him to play for Coach Walker, Yurish’s own high school coach, who has a solid reputation.
Malakai, a wide receiver and the best football player in West Virginia has been recruited by schools nationwide. Last year, Yurish referred to Malakai as “a helluva athlete” and in a 2016 interview with the local paper, Yurish said, “You’ve got to show these kids you care about them and you’re going to be there for them.”
Yurish, whose mother verbally abused special needs children at Berkeley Heights Elementary, told his players, “Don’t be a traitor like Malakai and Michael.”
Who’s the traitor?
This is what happens when a School Board and administrators look the other way, administrators like Manny Arvon who are so engaged in tomfoolery that they allow children to be collateral damage.
Kudos to Malakai and Michael, but what about the ones who don’t have the ability to escape this?