Residents rally to reinstate HPRHS varsity football coach

WANTAGE. Coach Austin Caldwell was initially removed from his position by the school superintendent.

| 25 Aug 2022 | 05:04

High Point Regional High School varsity football coach Austin Caldwell was reinstated to his position on August 23 amid a public outcry after he was removed from his position by Superintendent Scott Ripley. Now there are calls for a Board of Education investigation into the matter.

Rumors were flying as to exactly why Caldwell was removed from his position, which has not been publicly stated. After the school district received calls to reinstate Caldwell, Ripley said on Tuesday he had first temporarily offered Caldwell the opportunity to coach on the freshman level. But Ripley later opted to reinstate him as head varsity coach.

“I’ve been here for 25 years (10 as superintendent) and have put everything in my life into honoring this community,” Ripley said. “I still believe that the decision that I made was based upon sound judgment. I still believe – in spite of what may happen – that it was the right decision.”

One speaker at the August23 Board of Education meeting, Lisa Fahrenfeld, claimed Caldwell was “immediately fired” after Ripley’s son was directed to practice for a different position on the football team. However, this has not been confirmed.

She alleged that there was no discussion with the athletic director.

“You’ve heard circumstances and heard situations and say that this decision that was made had to do with my son,” Ripley said. “I will not give details. I won’t go into it any further. I care about your kids.”

However, he deferred his decision to the Board of Education. There was no formal item on the agenda regarding Caldwell’s hiring or reinstatement, but he was told he could return to the varsity practice field on August 24.

“I’m sorry you had to be here this evening,” Ripley said. “I’m sorry for the pain that this has cost anyone because I’m sure it has. It has caused me pain, as well. I’m not whining; it’s my responsibility. I’m not trying to complain, but it is an emotional issue. I’m sorry this has caused anyone any emotional distress.”

Wantage resident John Coerts said Ripley needed to publicly apologize to Caldwell, while Fahrenfeld and youth coach Raymond Trinidad said the High Point football program has taken a hit in the public eye.

“I would love to see an investigation into this whole entire thing for how he overstepped his boundaries,” Trinidad said.

Eric Caldwell, coach Caldwell’s father, called the perceived disrespect given to his son overwhelming.

“I don’t want to downgrade anybody, including [Ripley],” he said. “But all I’m asking for is give him some time, let him get his feet wet. Let him show had he can do. We’ve got great kids on the team.”

Coach Caldwell was appointed to the head varsity coach position in July 2021.