Focusing on its athletes’ safety and health, Randolph-Macon Academy has announced the decision to discontinue its football schedule for the 2019 fall season.
“This decision has nothing to do with wins and losses,” said Athletic Director and Football Head Coach Frank Sullivan. “It has to do with the safety of our student athletes. I believe football is the ultimate team sport. It takes a week of mentally and physically, strenuous practices to properly prepare the athletes for the rigors of the upcoming game. Our athletes handled the physical preparations in fantastic fashion. However, our numbers have dwindled to a point where we were dressing out and practicing with sixteen healthy students.”
The small numbers resulted in athletes playing both ways and substituting into positions they were not familiar with during the last game, a combination that concerned Sullivan. After consulting with his assistant coaches, he went to the R-MA administration and recommended that the rest of the season be canceled.
“It was a hard decision, but we have to do what’s right for the students,” he said. Sullivan went on to praise his players. “In my thirty years of coaching varsity football, I couldn’t be prouder of a group of students. The pillars of an R-MA graduate, character, grit and leadership were already on display daily whenever this team took the field whether it be for a practice or game.” In fact, the Yellow Jackets have displayed such determination and grit that earlier in the season, an opposing coach sent a letter to the Academy President, Brig Gen David C. Wesley, praising their amazing attitude and spirit.
An avid football fan himself, Wesley nevertheless praised Sullivan for making the right, though difficult, choice, saying, “Coach Sullivan's tireless leadership of our athletic department and his genuine concern for our athletes compelled this decision. He and his team have my full support. I hope all who pull for the Yellow Jackets will do what several of our football players’ parents are doing: Thank Frank for making the right call in a tough situation and support our athletes in the sports we play for the remainder of the year."
The Yellow Jackets football program will return for the fall of 2020.