A group of nearly 40 Fossil Ridge High School students gathered at the offices of the Poudre School District on Monday morning to protest the firing of football coach Brian Tinker.
The student-led protest at 2407 Laporte Ave., consisted mostly of football players with letters in hand written in support of Tinker.
After initially being told they wouldn’t be allowed into the building, the players were able to file in and drop off their letters in the reception area before leaving.
Once the group had all dropped off their letters, they sang the Fossil Ridge fight song in the PSD administrative parking lot.
“I just really want the reinstatement of our coach right now,” said Brady Russell, a captain on the football team.
Tinker was fired Friday afternoon. Shortly after Fossil Ridge athletic director Ken Denning told Tinker, the coach met with the team to break the news. Denning didn’t provide an explanation to the Coloradoan for the firing, saying it was a “personnel issue.”
Monday morning Fossil Ridge principal Will Allen sent an email to players and parents on the football team. In that email, Allen claimed responsibility.
“Per my direction as the building principal, I asked Mr. Denning to inform (Tinker) that we will not be renewing his contract as the head coach for Fossil Ridge football for next season,” Allen wrote. “I reviewed his contract and made my final staffing decision based upon multiple factors. Most importantly, my final decision to move in a new direction was based upon the difference of vision and leadership that I expect for our football program.”
Friday afternoon, a large group of the team met at Tinker’s residence to commiserate, eventually leading to the plan of the protest. There’s also a petition circulating online to try and get Tinker reinstated. As of 4:45 p.m. Monday, the petition had nearly 700 signatures.
“We know nothing else, we’re in the dark with everything,” quarterback Griffin Roberts said. “I think PSD will see how much he means to us. We look at him as a father figure.”
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The 2015 season was Tinker’s second as head coach. The SaberCats went 5-5 each season, making the Class 5A playoffs each season. Fossil Ridge had never made the 5A playoffs previous to his arrival, making the 4A playoffs once.
Tinker had a teaching position his first season, but his was one of several cuts Fossil Ridge made in May of 2015. He coached the 2015 season without a teaching position.
Last summer, the Fossil Ridge football team and PSD had a disagreement on Fossil Ridge’s plans to honor military members, ultimately reaching a contentious compromise.
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Follow sports reporter Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle and at facebook.com/KevinSLytle.