Varsity football returning to Monroe after 30 year hiatus. And when Bob Matthews covered the 1970 championship season

Varsity football returning to Monroe after 30 year hiatus. And when Bob Matthews covered the 1970 championship season

from the 1987 Monroe Yearbook


9/9/64 Frank Colwell, coach of the 1966 champions. Democrat and Chronicle

In today’s Democrat and Chronicle (BELOW), James Johnson reported on the return of varsity to Monroe High School. Kudos to Jason Muhammad and others who worked so hard for this day.

For more on the rebirth of Monroe football, see the June 19th, 2014 Football returning to Monroe after 30 year hiatus (BELOW)


11/15/70 Democrat and Chronicle

When browsing the D & C digital archives, I learned Monroe’s last city championship was in 1970. The Redjackets had also won in 1966 when coached by Frank Colwell.


10/18/70 Democrat and Chronicle

I also discovered that in 1970 none other than the ubiquitous Bob Matthews covered the city league football beat. Bob must have been just a cub reporter.

d 7 C monroe

Democrat and Chronicle, 8/17/16

Football returning to Monroe after 30 year hiatus

• June 19, 2014

It has been a long time in coming but football is finally coming back to Monroe.


from the 1987 Monroe Yearbook

Thanks in part to overdue, increased District funding for athletics, this Fall the school will have a Modified Football team — the first time the Red Jackets will be on the gridiron since 1986.

monroe 2

from the 1987 Monroe Yearbook

To be coached by Assistant Principal Jason Muhammad, the team will follow the rules established by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association and be a part of the City League and Section V.  Muhammad’s goal is to attract students to Monroe to play football, and from there grow a full program — Modified, J.V., and Varsity — in the years to come.

Having coached for over twenty years, Muhammad has long been a city football fixture. In 2006, while at John Marshall High School, his was the last RCSD team to win a Section V Championship, making it to the NYS Semi-Finals, losing to the eventual NYS Champion by just 2 points.

monroe 3

from the 1987 Monroe Yearbook

But if you talk to Muhammad for about two minutes, you will see that X’s and O’s and wins and losses are only a small part of the picture. Fundamentally, he passionately believes in the powerful, transformative impact football can and does have on the lives of youth.

Muhammad is especially concerned with our most “at risk” population which he defines as “black and brown boys between the ages of 13 – 18 who reside in urban areas, face significant economic challenges, are the victims and perpetrators of violent crimes, have extremely low graduation rates, and excessively high dropout rates.” These are the young people most in need of mentoring, guidance and positive outlets.

Muhammad convincingly argues that sports in general, and in his case football, are one of the most effective vehicles for reaching this population:

Football attracts the very ones who have been identified by every statistical analysis available as needing the most support. And it provides that support while simultaneously permitting the controlled release of the natural aggressive tendencies found in most adolescent males as they grow and mature into young men.

And, for years, he did just that at Marshall.

There, he helped established a year-round program that monitored each student-athlete in the areas of academics, citizenship, and training. In that 2006 championship season, the team was recognized by the RCSD Board of Education for its academic achievement as every player was academically eligible for the entire season – from August through the middle of November.

Perhaps most importantly, during the summer months when the allure of the streets is the strongest, his staff maintained ties with each player, communicating with their families and offering weekly activities that kept the players engaged. Activities usually took place three days a week in the evenings and most Saturday afternoons so that summer school or summer jobs were not affected. By doing this, Muhammad knew where is players were, which far more often than not, was the right place at the right time.

Muhammad’s own words best convey his passion:


Vintage 1987 Monroe football helmet [Photo provided by Jason Muhammad]

Simply stated, football helps. Football changes lives. It saves lives. A few years ago, a young man who played for East HS was tragically killed while he and some of his friends were are a party. He was a football player. I remember going to the funeral services and reflecting on how if his team had been playing in the Sectionals that weekend, he probably would not have been at that place at that time. I remember thinking about how what football coaches in the RCSD do is SO MUCH MORE than just coach and draw X’s and O’s, and about how football saves lives.Coaches are fathers and brothers. We yell and scream and praise and hug. We laugh, we cry. We fight, we love. I get texts and calls, and Facebook messages from my Football Sons every year on Fathers’ Day, and whenever I see them, wherever I am, we embrace like they are my own biological children. Because for some of these young men, the coach that they see every day is the only positive male figure they have in their lives.

Finally, Muhammad says to parents of 7th and 8th graders who are considering sending their children to Monroe to participate in football, “I promise to teach and train them as if they were my own.”  Hard to beat that.


Monroe Coach Jason Muhammad with 1987 jersey

UPDATE: SEE Happy Homecoming by Jason Muhammad


Happy Homecoming by Jason Muhammad

East’s Coach Brigandi proved the value of sports extends beyond the playing fields

As the University of Rochester’s Fauver Stadium moves forward, its rich football tradition lives on

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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