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Comments spur response from Brocton school board members

February 4, 2016
By Jeremy Izzio and Greg Fox ( , Westfield Republican

BROCTON - With a possible merging of football programs looming, members of the Brocton Board of Education fired back in response to "tasteless" comments made by Fredonia Board of Education President Michael Bobseine.

During a recent Fredonia Board of Education meeting, Bobseine shared strong opinions regarding the sport as a whole and went so far as to question Brocton-Westfield for playing out the season in the wake of Brocton student Damon Janes' death in 2013.

The discussion began at the Fredonia board meeting due to the fact Fredonia is experiencing difficulty in sustaining its program with a low participation outlook.

Article Photos

Photo by Jeremy Izzio
Members of the Brocton Board of Education didn’t mince words in reaction to Fredonia Board of Education President Michael Bobseine’s criticism earlier in the week. Pictured from left to right are Superintendent Jason Delcamp, President Doug Walter, First Vice President Michael Riforgiato and Second Vice President Todd McFadden.

After hearing about Fredonia's difficulty, and experiencing the same issue previously, the Westfield-Brocton football program reached out and suggested the three teams combine in an effort to secure the football future of all three schools.

"We understand that this is a new concept for Fredonia and members of that community," Brocton Superintendent Jason Delcamp said. "(Fredonia Superintendent Paul) DiFonzo identified to me that they are going to need some time with their board because this is completely new for them. At their board meeting there were some concerns whether or not football should continue on as a sport and whether or not the district should support it.

"If they are not going to move forward with it, Westfield and us will look to see how we can prolong our program and continue to give our kids opportunities."

Following Delcamp's update on the situation, other board members voiced their displeasure with Bobseine's comments.

"I think we should be sharing more beside football," Brocton Board President Doug Walter said. "Academics, whatever. (Bobseine's comments) were tasteless and I take offense to what he said as a parent of someone who played with Damon. He was a big part of my family and also the school family. I don't think he should be opening his mouth about two communities he has no idea about.

"I took it as why do our parents let their kids play football? My son played football and it was the kids' decision (to continue to play in the wake of Janes' death). Again, it's just one person and Fredonia is a very good community. I think they are going to step up and do what's right for the kids."

Board members Michael Riforgiato and Robert Mead-Colegrove also stated the comments were tasteless and unnecessary.

"It's really sad to use a tragedy to, I would say, victimize a person who has already passed in order to have a political agenda," Mead-Colegrove said.

Bobseine stated Monday he believes the Brocton School Board took his comments out of context.

He apologized for the way he was trying to get a point across regarding his concerns over the safety of the sport.

"I think that my comments about Damon Janes really were misinterpreted because here's the concern I've had: for many years, I've had this growing concern about our football team and what it might mean for our kids long-term," he remarked. "And so, when I think about myself on Friday nights and I think, 'You know, we're at risk for some serious injury,' I would feel absolutely terrible knowing what I know if something happened to one of our kids such as that."

He added when he made those comments, he was thinking more about how he could not live with himself if he rubber-stamped the continuation of football after seeing research about the dangers associated with it.



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