Despite taking a six-girl roster to the playoffs this season, Forbes Road girls basketball coach Jeff Gelvin has been replaced.
Nothing about this decision was easy, and nothing about this decision was done overnight.
It begins with two simple words: Six. Girls.
Think about this. On the surface, it's obvious a team with only six girls would be worried about finishing games. One team member fouling out is a real threat. But dig a little deeper, and you realize just how difficult the task of coaching a six-girl basketball team. For example, how do you set up a meaningful defense to play against a workable offense in practice with just six girls?
Despite the challenges, Gelvin led the Cardinals to the District 5 1A playoffs.
"There's nobody that wouldn't agree that he did an outsanding job with those six girls," said Forbes Road school board president Kirby Shoemaker. "I wouldn't have been able to stand it, not knowing every game if I would be able to put a team on the floor. He did a wonderful job, but it was a lot of a stress."
In April, Gelvin decided to try to tackle some of that stress. In a meeting with the school board, Gelvin said he attempted to come up with some solutions.
"All that meeting was supposed to be about was that we might be short on players next year, and let them know what was going on if we didn't have enough players," he said.
According to Stacy Gelvin - Jeff's wife and now former assistant girls basketball coach - there were only four players committed to the 2016-17 team at that time.
A co-op arrangement with McConnellsburg High School was discussed, but quickly shot down. Some school board members were worried about this proposal and some of the things they were told.
"In April, we set up a time for coach Gelvin and the AD (athletic director) to be in attendance about and talk about a co-op," FR superintendent Mark Loucks said. "During that meeting, coach Gelvin made a statement that he was not going to do this again with six girls, and if he had to, he would take his daughter (McKenzie) to Central Fulton School District (McConnellsburg) to play basketball.
"From the standpoint of the administration, we were thinking 'What do we do if he does that? That seed was planted that the possibility existed."
Several board members agreed.
"We couldn't wait until November and have him say, 'I'm not doing this,'" Shoemaker said. "We just had to put it out there and see if somebody was willing to take a chance."
Both Stacy and Jeff said that was not the way those statements were meant to be taken, and said they attempted to express their worries about the future of girls basketball at Forbes Road.
Stacy Gelvin said, "Here's Jeff's problem: he was genuinely concerned about the program, and that's what he was trying to tell them (at that meeting). They took it as a personal issue. Like, 'Well, we want to go to McConnellsburg, so we're better.' If he wouldn't have said anything, we wouldn't be here."
Over the summer, Jeff was told the position had been opened and he was invited to re-apply. He considered doing so, but earlier this month, he took his name out of the running. He has been replaced by Jamie Gelvin, a distant cousin of Jeff's and brother of boys soccer coach Justin.
Jeff Gelvin said, "I've coached roughly 25 years of basketball, and the board wants me to go in front of them, and the superintendent says, 'You need to go over your whole practice schedule, what you do, how the program can be built and all this stuff.' I feel like it's a slap in the face. I've won more games than we ever lost."
Gelvin had been a coach at Forbes Road for more than two decades. He spent 19 seasons as the head boys basketball coach, amassing a 266-205 (.565) record. He planned to retire from coaching to watch his daughter, McKenzie, but when the Cardinals struggled to find a girls coach in 2014, Gelvin took over.
He coached the girls team for two seasons, finishing with an 18-27 record.
What might be equally as big blow to Forbes Road's hopes this season is McKenzie's decision to not play basketball during her senior year. She was the Cardinals' leading scorer last season, averaging 17.3 points per game.
"I'm going to focus on track, and just run indoors," McKenzie said. "It will be more beneficial, and I don't really want to play under someone else who might not know what they're doing."