MATHEWS COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) – A volunteer high school coach taking aim at discrimination is fighting another battle, and students and parents are coming from the sidelines to help him.
“I just want to be somebody the kids can trust and instill what wrestling has instilled in me,” said Jami Thompson.
For the past nine years, Thompson has been there at every practice and every game for the Mathews High wrestling team. This year’s season starts in three weeks, but Thompson was told he couldn’t be involved.
“I love wrestling,” Thompson added. “I love these kids. Next to my wife and my family wrestling is number one.”
Thompson said he believes he’s not being allowed to participate because of an incident that happened during cheerleading tryouts at the high school a couple months ago.
“The cheerleading coach had come up with a policy that stated the ninth-grade girls were not allowed to try out for varsity cheerleading,” Thompson said.
Thompson has a daughter who is a ninth-grade cheerleader. Parenting aside, he said he thought that was discrimination against all the ninth graders.
“All students have a right to everything within the high school,” Thompson said.
When his phone calls to the school fell on deaf ears, he called the Virginia Department of Education. He said the department agreed with him and called the school. The next day cheerleader tryouts were held again.
“I thought everything was done,” Thomson said. “I made my phone calls. I said my peace.”
But two weeks ago, Thompson said he learned it was far from over. The wrestling coach told him he would no longer be allowed to help.
“When I was talking to the new coach I asked him specifically for any reason why I wouldn’t be allowed in there,” Thompson added. “The first thing that came out of his mouth is the way I handled the situation with the cheerleading coach in the spring.”
Students and parents are now coming to Thompson’s side. They’ve started a petition with more than 100 names and plan to take it to the school board at next Tuesday’s meeting.
10 On Your Side called Dr. David Holleran, the Mathews County Schools Superintendent, and he told us he would not comment on personnel issues.