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The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

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Football gets second new coach in just two months

TOTAL+TURNAROUND+-+After+multiple+coaching+changes%2C+Jason+Strickland+is+the+new+coach+for+Jackson-Reed+football.
Jackson-Reed Athletics
TOTAL TURNAROUND – After multiple coaching changes, Jason Strickland is the new coach for Jackson-Reed football.

After three straight losing seasons, Jackson-Reed Athletic Director Patrice Arrington believed it was time to start a new era for JR football. In late January, despite his strong connection with players, Arrington dismissed head coach Minoso Rodgers. 

A search committee which included athletic department officials, parents, and players then narrowed down a list of candidates for the job to three finalists. On March 26, former Fitchburg State University coach Kareem Jackson was hired.

But after just four weeks of practice, on April 29, Jackson resigned in an email to Arrington citing personal reasons. Four days later, Arrington hired the Tigers’ third coach in five months, Jason Strickland, a former head coach at Eastern High School in DC.

Arrington said that Jackson apologized for the sudden resignation that threw the program into turmoil. “It caught me off guard that I just hired someone in a long, lengthy process,” she said. “We and the committee thought he would be best suited for our football program.”

“I put that blame on myself. He was such a high candidate,” Arrington said. “He hit all the notches that the committee was looking for. It made me extremely sad for the kids.” Jackson declined a request to comment. 

Arrington said her reasoning for letting Rodgers go stemmed from wanting a fresh start. “As much as he did a fantastic job motivating and being supportive—all the things you want your coach to be in terms of a mentor—there was just some disconnect in terms of coaching the football program or even these guys,” she said. “I don’t think there was a connection with getting these guys to play well, so I had to consider all the factors.”

Under Rodgers, the Tigers had a 5-27 record. Arrington acknowledged difficulties Rodgers faced in recruiting players after Covid, and the absence of tackle football programs at JR’s feeder middle schools, Deal, Hardy and Oyster Adams. But she added, “I needed something different, I think the kids needed something different and we felt we needed to change the culture.” Rodgers declined to comment.

After two coaches in just over three months, some players wanted to create a petition to call off the 2024 season. That would have allowed players either to transfer to other schools or stay enrolled at Jackson-Reed while playing for another DCPS school. 

The idea was to regroup and come back in 2025. But Arrington said that was not an option. “This school has been around since 1935 and has always had a team,” she said. 

Players said they were taken aback by Jackson’s departure. “I was surprised because it wasn’t even a month and I thought it was going good so far,” said junior left tackle Noah Person. 

Despite the long pause in their off-season, the team saw a good turnout with returning players once their workouts resumed in April. “We had around 20 people show up almost every day, and it’s not like we were playing around,” Person said.

Arrington said Jackson may not have clicked with players because he had never coached high school before. 

“If I did have any doubt I would not have hired him,” she said. She called Jackson’s short stay a freak accident and not a mistake in the hiring process. “I don’t believe you have to be at every coaching level to do well,” she said. 

On May 3, four days after Jackson’s resignation, the athletic department announced the third coach of the offseason. Strickland has been a high school head coach for 13 years, with previous stints at Eastern from 2011-2018 and more recently at McDonough in Maryland and George Marshall High Schools in Virginia. 

I’m excited about the new challenge of leading this football program—watching the players compete and grow both as a team and individually,” Strickland said. “I’m eager to see the enthusiasm from our school community. Overall, the anticipation of a successful and fulfilling season makes it an exciting time.” 

Strickland said he was aware of the situation he was stepping into, with his main task being to motivate players again. “This offseason has certainly been unique and challenging, but we’ve approached it with a clear strategy and a strong commitment to our goals,” he said. 

Stickland said those goals include “reminding [players] that their dedication and enthusiasm will be a testament to their resilience and commitment to our team’s success.” 

The team has been practicing under Strickland since May 7. “We lost 20 seniors, then had an unexpected change in the winter,” junior running back and linebacker Aidan Giles said. “Hopefully we can reach a point where we can start preparing for next season and avoid any setbacks.”

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About the Contributors
Justin Glenn
Justin Glenn, Sports Editor
Justin is a sports fanatic.. you’ll most likely see him with a baseball cap of some sort throughout the hallways. If he isn’t writing about high school sports, he’s likely watching a D.C. sports team, NASCAR or some other professional league in his free time. Outside of sports, he enjoys the outdoors and watching Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch, besides that, he’s an average out-going person.
  • 2023-24: Assistant Sports Editor
Noa Gordon, Sports Editor
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