Players, parents protest after Fossil Ridge football coach fired

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- The Fossil Ridge High School football team didn’t win a game the season before coach Brian Tinker took over the program. In his first year, he led the Sabercats to their first playoff appearance in Class 5A.

On Friday, Tinker was fired. Several players and parents said it’s not about wins and losses, but they’re not giving up until he is back.

High school football is all about relationships.

“He’s been a father figure in my life,” junior quarterback Brady Russell said.

And lessons learned along the way.

“Off the field, he’s been a great mentor,” junior linebacker Nick Edridge said. “He’s taught me responsibility, respect, integrity.”

But the Sabercats aren’t sure what lesson the Poudre Valley School District is teaching by firing Tinker.

“I was just in disbelief,” Edridge said. “Nobody saw it coming.”

“I was so mad that I was tearing up a little bit,” Russell said.

This past season there was animosity among Tinker, his players and the school's administration over a proposed night to honor fallen military personnel on the back of their jerseys.

“That’s what I think we’re all led to believe,” parent Ed Spraberry said. “And I think that’s the biggest frustration among players and parents. We feel like the people’s lives who are impacted the most by this are not having their voices heard.”

Nearly 50 players showed up at the district office in protest on Monday, and parents are joining in on the fight.

“We want to know that our voices are heard, the players' voices are heard. That’s ultimately who the district is responsible to,” Spraberry said.

The school district said Tinker’s contract was not renewed in a decision by the principal. The district said it supports the decision and because it’s a personnel issue, it cannot discuss the matter.

“These boys, his players, these students -- they deserve more than that,” Heather Edridge said about the district’s statement. “This is a person that I want in my child’s life. People like that these days are few and far between.”

And the battle doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.

“The only end for me is reinstating coach Tinker,” Edridge said. “I’m not stopping.”