April 03, 2013 - Oxford High School is now searching for two new head coaches for varsity sports.
Last week, Paul Marfia, head coach of the boys varsity basketball team, resigned.
He joined Brandon Rank, head coach of the varsity wrestling team, who resigned the week before.
"Me and (Athletic Director Mike) Watson got together at the end of the year, looked at the way things were going and they decided they would like the basketball program to go in a different direction," Marfia said.
"It's just one of those situations where things are not working out as well as they could be on his end and on our end," Watson explained. "It was just kind of mutually agreed upon that he would resign."
"I'm a very subordinate employee and Mike is my boss," said Marfia, who was hired as coach in May 2009. "Obviously, he has the discretion to do that and I respect that. That's why I chose to step down."
Unlike Rank, who will return to being an assistant wrestling coach, Marfia will not continue to be a part of the basketball program.
"Personally, I felt I gave my heart and soul to the program and felt like we were going in a good direction," he said. "But obviously, it was not up to the standards of the athletic program. And that's fine.
"If my boss doesn't like the direction of the basketball program and doesn't like the things that we're doing or have confidence in that, I'm the one that should be held accountable. Like I said, I'm a very subordinate employee and I'm always going to look to my boss and respect his decision."
This past season, the boys basketball team had a record of 10-11 and finished second in the league. The year before, the team had a record of 14-7 and again, finished second in the league.
Last year's 14 wins was the most wins in a season since 1949 and the last time the team had 24 wins in two seasons was 1976-77, according to Marfia.
"I felt I did everything I possibly could to the best of my ability and if my ability isn't good enough, I'll live with that," he said. "There's no ill will. I've got big-boy pants."
"It's not as though he did a poor job," Watson said. "He was recognized by several of the coaches on our existing staff as one of the hardest working coaches that we have."
"Obviously, there has not been a ton of success (with regard to) boys basketball over time," Watson added. "That's something that Paul wanted to change and I think for a large part, he did change that."
Watson noted that if the boys could have just chalked up a couple more victories on the court, it would have been the first time in many years that the team had back-to-back winning seasons.
"(Marfia) had done a good job," he said. "We had produced some good players along the way . . . Paul had done a great job instituting some more comprehensive youth basketball programs and that's something that we have to continue."
But in the end, it was felt the program wasn't where it needed to be. "I don't think we've established a culture here that really supports boys basketball success and we tried like heck together to do that," Watson said.
Marfia, who will continue teaching World History at OHS, wished to make it clear that his decision had nothing to do with the team itself.
"I have a great deal of love for Oxford basketball and the kids that I've worked with. I want to make sure that's understood," he said. "I love Oxford Schools. I've got four daughters and I look forward to watching them graduate."
"I truly love this community," Marfia added. "I appreciate the opportunity that I was given. I wish I could have done more."
Marfia plans to focus his energy on his teaching and his family, although he's not ruling out the possibility of doing some coaching again at some point in the future should the opportunity arise.
"I don't believe I'm done coaching," he said. "My family's only known me as a coach. I've been a varsity boys coach for 19 seasons now and I've only been married 12 (years)."
"I'm still a passionate coach," Marfia continued. "I still think I'm a good coach. I guess the bottom-line is I just have to make sure I find a place that thinks I'm a good coach.
"I've coached many things. I've coached football. I've coached track. I love being around kids and athletics. They've been a big part of my life.
That being said, Marfia admitted, it will be a while before he puts that symbolic whistle around his neck again.
"As far as coaching varsity boys basketball, my heart has been broken and I don't think I, in the near future, could coach anywhere else but Oxford," he said.
"It's tough like when you're in high school and you're in love with a girl that doesn't love you back. That doesn't mean you're not going to love again. It just means you've got to take a little time to find that love."
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.