After a last-minute victory this year to open what would be his final season as Central York’s head football coach, Brad Livingston explained why he could remain so calm during hectic games. Decades ago, he figured it out as a young head coach. While assistant coaches could go berserk, barking out orders, he needed to be the one person his players could look to and know everything would be OK.
That’s the way it has been for almost 50 years.
“He’s truly been the calm in the storm,” said Matt Baker, who played under Livingston and then coached alongside him as his offensive coordinator for more than a decade.
Many figured Livingston would continue to be that calming force for years to come at Central.
“The way ... JoePa was at Penn State, Coach Livingston was that at Central York,” said Andrews Dadeboe, a former Central football and volleyball player and a current Division I football player at Buffalo.
Central York, however, decided to cut ties with Livingston on Friday, announcing it had opened the position of head football coach and head boys' volleyball coach to interested applicants.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet, it’s just weird,” Dadeboe said about Central York’s decision. “It’s disappointing, weird, upsetting.”
It marks a seismic shift for the school district. A three-sport coach during his time at Central York, Livingston, 67, coached in the football program for 46 consecutive seasons -– including the last 34 as a head coach. He coached in the volleyball program for 43 seasons, including the last 14 as the head coach. He also spent 13 years helping coach wrestling, including four seasons as the varsity head coach.
The move comes about a month after school officials met with Livingston on Nov. 18 and asked him to resign. That meeting "shocked" Livingston.
"They made their case for wanting to do this," Livingston said Friday afternoon. "What it really comes down to is they wanted to make a change so they found the reasons to do so."
Livingston said he opted not to accept a forced resignation because he didn’t want to lie to his team.
"It just wasn't true,” Livingston said. “How can I tell kids who played hard for me that I'm tired, I'm ready to quit dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah?" he said. "Clearly I'm not ready to quit."
Livingston said he would like to continue coaching — both sports.
"I guess I'm going to be shopping now for a new football and volleyball coaching job," Livingston said.
The district has been largely quiet on the reasons behind the move. At a school board meeting Dec. 7, board President Eric Wolfgang read a statement that said, "All that I am prepared to say is that there have been some concerns expressed by various stakeholders, and those concerns are currently the subject of investigation."
Yet, the two school board meetings in December included dozens of citizens speaking on Livingston’s behalf. Former players and citizens in the community have also reached out to him recently.
"Well, I can tell you what I have learned over the last few weeks, there are many ways a person can be rich,” Livingston said. “What I've learned is I'm a very rich man. There are people that have stood by me and been behind me. There can't be a richer man."
Livingston leaves with 211 football victories, more than any other coach in York-Adams history except for George Shue and Denny Frew. He leaves the volleyball court with two state championships and three state final appearances.
“I’m a grad, and if there are two programs at our school that have great tradition it’s football and volleyball,” Baker said. “That should tell you all you need to know.”
And if there was any question about Livingston losing his touch or connecting with students, Dadeboe said that could not be true.
“I can honestly say he’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever had, including at the college level,” he said. “If he saw something affecting you off the field, he wanted to talk. He was able to talk to you about your outside life and issues with family, grades, the game, whatever.”
Yet, for the first time since the fall of 1969, Livingston won’t be patrolling the Central York sidelines during football season.
“I think it’s a humongous loss. … I’m not for this,” Baker said. “I think he’s done nothing but great things for kids.”
Baker then pointed to Livingston’s open letter.
“He still thanks everybody. … Still class at the very end,” Baker said. “He still taught me something, even at the very end.”
Central York board of directors and administrators statement:
"After discussion in Executive Session among members of the Board of School Directors and District Administrators, it has been determined that the best interests of the District would be served by posting the positions of head coach for both the football and boys’ volleyball programs.
"We are grateful to former head coach Brad Livingston for his many years of service and understand that he has impacted many lives throughout his tenure as head football coach and head volleyball coach. It is clear from those who have come forward recently to share their respect and admiration of him that he has made a difference in those whose lives and athletic careers he touched. We appreciate his commitment to the program and thank him for the time and effort he has given to Central York High School’s players and their families.
"Please be aware that, as a matter of law and as a matter of policy, the Board and Administration cannot discuss confidential personnel matters publicly. Therefore, we will not comment further on this issue, nor will we respond to questions or comments that may be made."
- This season marked Livingston's 46th season with the football program, including his time spent as an assistant.
- Livingston’s teams compiled a 211-153-4 record in 34 seasons as a head coach. Under his leadership, the Panthers won at least a share of 10 league division titles, including most recently back-to-back first-place finishes in 2012-13.
- His win total ranks third in York-Adams league history. Only George Shue (with 226 victories at Littlestown and Red Lion) and Denny Frew (with 220 victories at Delone Catholic) have won more games than Livingston.
- His teams reached the District 3 playoffs on 10 occasions, going 8-10 in the postseason with losses in the 1990 Class AAA and 1984 Class AA title games.
- No York County team had won a District 3 Class AAA title until 2006, but one of Livingston’s teams came close to snapping the drought. Central lost to powerhouse Manheim Central, 24-23, in the 1990 championship game while Manheim Central was in the midst of a stretch where it won 12 titles in 13 years.
- One of his standout players included quarterback Matt Baker, a 1986 graduate who started at Temple before returning to Central’s staff as an assistant. Baker has served as the offensive coordinator from 2000 through this season. Other future college players Livingston coached included linebacker Kyle Baublitz (Penn State), lineman Wayne Tribue (Temple), Andrews Dadeboe (Buffalo), Jermiah Dadeboe (Buffalo) and Travis Motley (Mansfield), who until this season held the league’s record for career passing. Current New York Giants lineman Will Beatty, who graduated from William Penn, also played at Central York.