RFA football coach resigns

Published Nov 20, 2017 at 12:01pm

Rome Free Academy varsity football coach Theodore “Ted” Swavely has resigned after nine years in the position.

Swavely is “not returning as the RFA head football coach,” school district Athletic Director Michael Stamboly said this morning by email.

“I’m happy for Ted and know this was not an easy decision for him. Ted loved coaching our student-athletes,” Stamboly added. “I believe that Ted based his decision on many factors including what is in the best interest of his family, the community, the district, and the program.”

Swavely could not be reached for comment today. He is a physical education teacher at RFA. The varsity football coach position is in a part-time capacity.

RFA won-loss record since Swavely became head coach for the 2009 season was 21-55, including 1-8 in 2017; his lone winning season was at 5-4 in 2015, and in 2010 the team was 4-4. His son Ryan, a senior, was an all-star lineman for RFA in the 2017 season, while his son Justin, a sophomore, played quarterback and linebacker on the 2017 team.

The school district “will need to post the position and start the interview process,” Stamboly said regarding seeking a successor to Swavely. “I would hope that the search will reach many experienced coaches.” 

Board of Education members said they were notified this morning by school district Superintendent Peter C. Blake of Swavely’s resignation.

“I’m sure it’s a surprise to a lot of people,” board Vice President Paul Hagerty said today about Swavely stepping down. “On the other hand” there may be some football fans concerned that the team has been “not winning” in recent seasons, Hagerty remarked, adding “not that it’s the coach’s fault” although such matters tend to “come back” at the coach from other people.

The RFA varsity football team is widely followed in the community, including attracting large crowds to its Friday night home games at RFA Stadium.

"i know it's popular, especially popular in Rome," Hagerty said of the RFA football program.

It would be "up to the athletic department to make a nomination to the board" regarding the next varsity football coach, said Hagerty. The board approves coaching appointments.

Board member Timothy Safin, who chairs the board's personnel committee, said today of Swavely's head football coaching resignation, "I'm sorry to see him go. I wish him the best." He said Swavely put "a lot of time and effort into the program. He truly was there for the kids...win, lose or draw."

Safin noted Swavely's involvement in the program besides the football season itself, including "all the programs he does in the summer...all the weightlifting programs" for the players.

Safin anticipated the board would appoint a new RFA varsity head football coach by this spring.

The annual varsity football team awards banquet that had been scheduled for Dec. 3 at The Beeches has been cancelled, according to postings on the RFA Football Touchdown Club Facebook page. Although the parent/athlete banquet has been cancelled, there still will be a banquet with the coaches and athletes as soon as apparel, gifts and awards come in, the postings said. They also said a new date, time and location will be posted on the page once it is determined.

Many people spoke in support of Swavely at a February 2014 Board of Education meeting after Swavely said earlier that month that he had been asked by the district to step down as RFA head football coach. About 100 people packed that board meeting, as about 15 speakers including then-current and former players and coaches plus parents praised Swavely's dedication and commitment to students. Many of the remarks prompted loud applause from the audience. The board later decided in June 2014 to appoint Swavely again as football coach; the appointments are done annually.

Prior to 2009, RFA football teams had qualified for the Section III playoffs every year since their inception in 1974, and the program also had a long winning tradition before there were sectional playoffs.