Pennsylvania Football – An American High School Tradition Featuring the Ridley Raiders

First and foremost, my hat goes off to each coach, mentor, administrator and stakeholder that has contributed to the student athlete in the past as well as those who continue to partake in the lives of student athletes and communities in America. The time and effort that is put into coaching is tremendous in terms of X’s and O’s, and most importantly, the student athlete’s personal life, involving people, places, and situations. Coaches are truly role models and have an impact on the lives of the players. LONG LIVE THE COACH!

Pennsylvania football is known as one of America’s greatest traditions. Such players as Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Joe Montana and dozens of other renowned players have established themselves, the state, and others as the “cradle” and backbone of American high school football. In addition, Pennsylvania Coaches like Curry (Berwick), Bernat (Owen J. Roberts), Waller (Ridley), Pettine (CBWest) etc… represented what leadership of student athletes should be on as well as off of the field. I have personally encountered Coach Hank Bernat, more ways than one, and believe me he is a COACH! These motivational, inspiring, dedicated, and strong wielded mentors sought to make sure that the student athlete endured successfully in education and in the community. The coaches of Penn’s Woods (Pennsylvania) ensured that each player understood the realities of life and that it was imperative to become a productive citizen in America. The greatest all round coach from Pennsylvania that people have told me about and I have witnessed in terms of leadership, and emphasizing the try and care mentality was the one and only Jerry Sandusky. Need I say more?

In many unsuccessful as well as accomplished football programs in 21st century high school communities, educators and coaches are pressured to make positive results of winning whether by way of undermining or acquiring the true support, preparation and education within the schooling realm. The question remains, what is the intent of the coach? Is he using the student athlete as a pawn for his future success, or does he care about the student first? This has a profound impact on the integrity of his or her mission and most importantly the student athlete! This environment can create an unsound culture as well as a production of poor values internally within a schooling society and is infiltrated into the community and American society. This negative domino effect is the end result of not just losing in the game of life, but instills a stale atmosphere within the schooling institution in terms of sport and other social aspects.

A reminder, not an introduction, the Ridley Raiders continue to be Pennsylvania’s team and one of America’s traditional football teams. Established in 1934, the Ridley football program reached the 500 win mark “30” years faster than any other program in the state! Furthermore, as a testament to their tradition and success, the Ridley Raiders have the best winning percentage in Pennsylvania as well as establishing the greatest winning percentage in the nation at 25 percent! A schooling society of tradition backed and supported by all stakeholders including the students, educators, administrators, and an outstanding “blue collar” community. The fans consisting of traditional family and others who are new to the community, buy into the “blue collar ” work ethic and the town and are dedicated to the students, community, coaches and the team. This action is somewhat not heard of in many schooling societies in various educational high school realms. This is what makes the Ridley congregation a winner within a geographical area (Philadelphia) that is not just a tradition for football, but is the foundation of America’s history and birth place (Declaration of Independence).

Stakeholders across American high schools and post secondary education should emphasize the successes of the student athlete first and the money, fame, as well as aspirations to be successful may fall in line if it was meant to be! Take care of the student athlete! Just ask such higher educational coaches and motivators as Joe Paterno, Jerry Sandusky, Jackie Sherrill, Steve Spurrier, Bobby Bowden, R.C. Slocum, Don Nehlen, Bo Schinbeckler, Tom Osborne, Paul Bryant and many others who continue or have motivated and taught the student athlete to be strong productive citizens on and off of the field. HAIL TO THE RIDLEY RAIDERS!

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