Former Bay High School football coach Benji Foreman is receiving backing from a group of students who hope to have him reinstated to his post.
A large, yellow envelope that carried 64 letters written in support of Foreman arrived via mail in the Sun Herald newsroom Thursday morning.
Bay High athletic director Vernon Powell revealed last week to the Sun Herald that the Bay-Waveland School District decided that there was a change needed atop the football program. Foreman had a 2-18 record in two seasons as head coach at Bay High and was coming off an 0-10 season.
The school district’s decision clearly did not sit well with a group of players and students at Bay High.
The letters sent to the Sun Herald do not give the names of the students who produced them. Those who signed their letters had their names erased.
An anonymous email questioning Foreman’s firing was sent to the Sun Herald on Saturday. The email ended with the hashtag, #foremanismycoach.
The cover letter received on Thursday ends with that same hashtag.
“He taught us that we deserve more than being average,” the letter says. “He taught us to work hard to be better than average in life and is teaching us to be better in football.”
The school district did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.
The Sun Herald reached out to Foreman on Thursday morning to get his reaction on the groundswell of support among students.
“I’m blessed and touched by everything, all the support from these kids and parents in the community and the faculty here,” Foreman said.
Foreman, who was named the Bay High Teacher of the Year last month, said he informed his players that he will not be returning as football coach following the Sun Herald’s March 1 report about his dismissal.
“I don’t really know how to explain it,” Foreman said of the response from his players. “I guess it was surreal and very emotional.”
Foreman has continued to go about his duties with the football program.
“Really, nothing has changed,” he said. “We’re still up here working them out and running them. We’re still doing our normal thing. They deserve success. They’ve worked too hard. I’ll continue to do what I do. Whatever happens, happens.”
Foreman, who teaches health and PE, would not comment when asked if he plans to make an effort to be reinstated as football coach. He also did not say if he was aware of the letter-writing campaign on his behalf.
He seemed to be at peace with whatever comes next.
“With me, it’s all part of a bigger plan,” he said. “I’m just waiting for God’s plan to be revealed for me.”
The anonymous letters sent to the Sun Herald were all full of praise for Foreman as a coach, teacher and as a mentor.
Comments in the letters included:
▪ “Coach Foreman is the most encouraging and loving teacher I have ever had. He believes in me when no one else will. Whenever I walk into his classroom, he makes my day so much better.”
▪ “Coach Foreman takes time out of his day just to make sure a student knows that he or she has someone that cares about them. That is one of the biggest reasons that he was chosen as Bay High’s Teacher of the Year.”
▪ “He has done nothing but love and respect every person he talks to. He is exactly the type of man I want to grow up and be.”