Plans to shutter eight schools affect athletics

Posted: December 14, 2012

The Philadelphia School District plans to shutter eight schools at the end of the school year will have sweeping ramifications on high-school athletics.

Included in the list is football power Bok and basketball power Vaux. Bok has won five-straight Public League titles, including last month's AAA crown.

Bok football coach Frank Natale said he hopes to be able to keep his program intact at another school. He's also the school's athletic director and teaches chemistry.

"I worry about establishing a tradition and then losing it," said Natale. "I don't want to be negative, I want to be positive and bring what we have here to somewhere else."

Natale said he sent six players to college last season on scholarship, including linebacker Robert Kralle who earned a full-ride to Bloomsburg.

Vaux features one of the city's top backcourts in senior point guard Rysheed Jordan and shooting guard Sammy Foreman.

Jordan will be unaffected by the closure, but Foreman will be looking for a new school in September. Foreman, who transferred earlier in the school year from Haverford School, is receiving college interest from Temple, UCLA, and Rutgers.

Also slated to close is Germantown, Strawberry Mansion, University City, Douglas, Lamberton and Carroll.

Longtime Strawberry Mansion head coach Gerald Hendricks said he had no idea that his former school was going to close.

"I was proud of it," said Hendricks. "I think the school was a great place for the students and the community."

Hendricks retired in 2010 after 41 years in the District. He started at Mansion in 1980 and picked up 425 wins along the way.

In 2002, he captured his second league title behind senior guard Maureece Rice. Rice finished his career with 2,681 points which ranks as the city's all-time scoring leader.

"He was a great player and a great person," said Hendricks. "It's always good when you have talent."

Frank Greco, who coached basketball for 28 years at Central, said the closures will affect the sport's traditional rivalries.

Greco retired in 2010 after 14 years as boys' coach and 12 years as girls' coach.

"Central-University City [girls' basketball] was a great rivalry," said Greco. "When we played each other during the regular season and playoffs, it was a war. We knew we had to get through each other to move on."


Contact Matt Breen at mbreen@phillynews.com or @matt_breen on Twitter.

Rick O'Brien also contributed to this article.

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