Waiting for backup: Sheffield coach, players fighting for program despite limited community support

Sheffield battles in an away game against Ridgway last September.

The Sheffield football program is facing an uncertain future.

While the coaches and players are doing what they can to keep the Wolverines on the field, they’re doing it without one of the biggest weapons in their arsenal.

The Sheffield community.

“I need my community to figure some things out and realize if we don’t save (the program), it’s going to be gone,” Sheffield coach Chris Korbar said.

Korbar knows first-hand how valuable community support can be. He’s gone from player to coach, and been involved with the program in some way almost every year since he was a high school freshman in 1995. That just happens to be the same year the co-op with Abraxas began under then-head coach and current athletic director Corey Copley.

“I’m the only coach who was also a player in the system, been a fan at times and coached with every head coach since the co-op program started,” Korbar said.

Those experiences give Korbar a unique perspective, and from his vantage point, the glue that had for so long held the program together, is starting to give.

“It’s fallen off,” he said. “We need to motivate everybody. We’re trying to figure out where barriers (to participation) lie across the board.”

Meanwhile, Wolverine football is living on borrowed time. Because participation numbers in offseason programs have been low thus far, Warren County School District officials are becoming increasingly concerned Sheffield will face a similar dilemma as Youngsville in 2016.

Field a team not physically or mentally ready for varsity competition, or forfeit games.

“They want to have solid numbers,” Korbar said. “I’ve been told they want ’16 capable athletes.'”

A meeting has been scheduled for July 12 between districts officials and Sheffield players/parents. If the Wolverines are unable to demonstrate at that meeting that they can meet the district’s criteria, the WCSD Board of Directors could take action, likely forming a Sheffield-Warren co-op, at its July 30 meeting.

“My concern right now is what can I do with the kids,” Korbar said. “If we have to go to Warren, I need to prepare the kids for that. The kids want to have their own program here. All the kids said they want to stay here.”

In the past, community members would have gone out and encouraged kids who were on the fence (Korbar said there are 8-10 right now who are unsure if they want to play) to strap up and give it a shot. To date, that hasn’t happened to the degree that it would make an impact.

“I need my community to figure some things out and step up to the plate,” Korbar said. “It’s not that people aren’t out there, they just don’t want to right now.”

In addition to not encouraging participation, Sheffield has been unable to fill a pair of junior high coaching vacancies, despite the jobs being posted multiple times. Those vacancies are also hurting numbers for the Wolverines’ lone feeder program.

“Not having any coaches right now, the kids don’t know who the coaches are,” Korbar said. “Are kids going to want to play for someone they don’t know?”

Korbar has received no indication that anyone has even put in for the job(s), despite several people telling him they’d like to volunteer.

Still, Korbar is pressing on with the task of rebuilding a Sheffield team that went 0-10 last year and is 3-27 over the last three seasons.

“We’re working on it,” he said. “We’ve got the Bolt weight program (going). It’s about building athletes. We’ve got the weight room open mornings and evenings. It’s all about building the program.”

The community has always been the foundation that program was built on. Now it seems like the foundation is crumbling.

“Right now, there has been a lot of sideline talk,” Korbar said. “Parents had some bad taste in their mouth with the way things ended last year. They were vocal about it.

“That needs to end,” he added. “There needs to be a support system.”