The man who has attended every William Penn boys' basketball game since 1979, and been a mainstay at other Bearcats sporting events, announced his resignation from the school district Monday.
Joe Chiodi went through two rounds of interviews to be re-hired as William Penn's athletic director, he said, but after being told he likely wouldn't be re-hired, he decided to hand in his resignation.
In addition to teaching in the school district for 35 years, Chiodi served as the assistant athletic director for 23 years and was head athletic director for five years.
"My plan was to stay three more," Chiodi said. "That would've been 50 years at the school for me, and that was kind of my goal. It is what it is. Everything fades with time. I'll always have memories of the games and of the kids. What you miss the most is the camaraderie with the coaches and the banter with the kids. That's what makes the job easy."
Chiodi wasn't told anything during the interview process, he said, other than the school district was re-opening the position as they do every year and that they were putting the position under a teacher contract instead of a stipend. While Chiodi was walking into the administration building Monday morning, he was told by someone knowledgeable of the situation that he likely wouldn't be re-hired, he said.
"I didn't get a call, email or text from anyone on the school board that this may happen," Chiodi said. "I understand that they might not have an obligation to do that, but I figured after 47 years if that's how they felt, then I had enough."
After Chiodi handed in his resignation, he spoke with the school district's superintendent.
"I was told the school board wanted to go in a different direction," Chiodi said. "That can mean so many things obviously. But they said they wanted someone who could work with the community and who wanted to bring back sports."
Several sports programs were cut in recent years because of financial issues, but boys' and girls' tennis will be back in the fall pending PIAA approval, Chiodi said, and he was working on bringing baseball and soccer back as well.
The timing of the decision to look for a new athletic director is unusual, Chiodi added, with winter sports in full swing. The boys' basketball team is in the midst of a quest for its third-straight District 3 title and the girls' team has already surpassed last season's win total.
"It's not a good time to do this," he said. "They could've done this in the summer and started someone new in the fall if that's what they wanted. Now you'll have someone come in February who doesn't know the system. They'll have to rely a lot on the coaches to help I guess."
While there's nothing official on a new athletic director at the moment, William Penn spokeswoman Erin James expects the school board could have a potential hire on the agenda for Wednesday's meeting, she said.
The hiring process could potentially delay the Bearcats' search for a new football coach as well.
"I'm not sure that would necessarily have to happen that way," James said on if an athletic director would have to be hired before the coaching search could resume. "But that's something you would definitely want the input of an athletic director for."
On behalf of the district, James thanked Chiodi for more than four decades of dedication to the district.
"Mr. Chiodi spent many, many years as our coach, athletic director, role model and colleague," James said. "We'd like to thank him for those years of service. He touched many lives while he was here, and we wish him all the best."
What's next for Chiodi? He would like to continue his streak of seeing every boys' basketball game since 1979, but he won't do it if it's a distraction to the team, he said. Head coach Troy Sowers has already offered to bring Chiodi on as a volunteer assistant coach.
Outside of sports, Chiodi said he's been offered a few jobs in the community that he'll mull over. No decision will come for at least a month, he added.
"I'll choose something at some point," he said. "This wasn't my livelihood. This was a labor of love. But with some things in life, it's not what you do, it's how you do it."
Reaction at William Penn: "Pure shock" is how Sowers described his first reaction to the news of Chiodi's departure.
"You won't find anyone anywhere who says anything negative about Joe Chiodi," Sowers said. "He is someone who gave his heart and soul to young people in York City, and he was professional at every level of everything he did."
Sowers has had trouble explaining the departure to his students, and current and former players, he said.
Sowers credited Chiodi with being a big part of the team's success because of his dedication and compassion. Chiodi did everything from laundry to running the concession stand to making sure the programs ran smoothly, Sowers said.
"He took care of anything related to athletics and he did all the little things for our guys," Sowers added. "He even made sure we got food on the way home from games and little things like that. All those things that made these kids' high school careers so special is gone."
Some of those responsibilities will fall on the winter sports coaches and their staffs until a new athletic director is brought into the fray.
"We've been getting flooded with emails about things we had no clue even had to be taken care of," assistant coach Clovis Gallon said. "Joe handled all of that and did so many things we didn't even know to make sure our programs could be successful. He was always there."
Sowers' players took the news with sadness, he said.
"Kids know when they're loved," Sowers said. "I told my guys Monday, and it was like someone had died. It was a horrible feeling. When these kids have a problem, they go to Mr. Chiodi. Our kids will greatly miss him."
Joe Chiodi at a glance
— Chiodi was associated with William Penn High School for 47 years, 23 of which came as assistant athletic director and five as head athletic director.
— Chiodi said he's attended every boys' basketball game at William Penn since 1979.
— The boys' basketball team won four YAIAA titles and two district titles during Chiodi's tenure as head athletic director.
— The girls basketball team won a league title while Chiodi was the interim athletic director in 1998.
— The William Penn athletic department is still looking to fill its vacancy for head football coach.