School named for Vince Lombardi cancels football because it can't find coaches

Vincent T. Lombardi Middle School in Green Bay. (WLUK/Andy Harbath)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WLUK) -- The Green Bay middle school named for the most famous Green Bay Packers coach won't offer football this season.

“I was really looking forward to playing for them this season,” said Alex Coniff, an 8th grade student at Lombardi Middle School. “It makes me mad that they don't have them, but I can still play football, so that’s good.”

Coniff is picking up St. Joseph's Wildcats equipment after learning Lombardi canceled its 7th and 8th grade football teams because it doesn’t have any coaches.

“We had like four coaches last year and we all thought they were going to come back, but I guess not,” said Coniff.

Coniff estimates Lombardi had about 55 students on its two football teams last season.

In a letter to parents, Lombardi principal Jim Van Abel writes the school had been advertising coaching vacancies since last April and have not had anyone apply to the positions. He also writes with the time it takes to hire quality people, interviews, reference, and background checks, the school has simply run out of time.

On another note, I am sorry to say that we will have to cancel our football season this year. We have not been able to find any football coaches. We have been advertising our coaching vacancies since last April and have not had any one apply to these positions. We've been working with the high school football coaching staff, trying to find coaches through word of mouth. But, no luck there either. With the time it takes to hire quality people, interviews, reference, and background checks, we have simply run out of time. So, football for the year will be canceled. If your child is interested in playing football, there are opportunities with the area club football teams.

“Green Bay is a football city and for Lombardi to close, I think it’s a great loss for the kids,” said Morris Strain, the president of St. Joseph’s football program.

According to the school district's website, a middle school football coaching job pays $2,149 a season. By comparison, club teams, like St. Joe's, don’t pay their coaches.

“Green Bay likes to hire within, so they like to keep their staff in their school,” said Strain. “I don't know if it’s to write one check.”

St. Joe's reports its participation is down this year and would accept any Lombardi students wanting to play.

Middle school football season lasts about three months.

The school district did not have anyone available to do an interview for this story. A district spokesperson tells us she isn't sure if any other schools are planning on canceling football as well.

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