WELLSVILLE - After each of his first five seasons as Wellsville football coach, Dave Skinner never had to worry about the process of reapplying for the position.
It was basically just a formality. About a month after each season, Skinner would get set to open up the weight room for his players and at the next board of education meeting, his contract would be renewed.
After his sixth season, however, that all changed.
Skinner was informed by Wellsville Athletic Director Don Elliott on Monday that this year the process would be open to new candidates and that he was welcome to reapply.
Skinner said he is still undecided as to whether or not he will.
"I thought it was crazy that they told me I could reapply," he said. "Evidently, there's someone else they have their eyes on that they think could do a better job. I thought it was really strange after six years. I really don't know why that decision was made. I could speculate, but what's the use. I had zero plans to go anywhere. I was happy right here."
Wellsville High School Principal Linda Rolley said she wouldn't go into the details behind the decision, but did say that she would like to see participation in the football program increase.
"The program was not going in the direction the administration or the board wanted it to go so we've decided to open up the search," Rolley said. "Obviously, there's some reasons behind that, but nothing that needs to be in the paper. I can tell you that we're hoping to get the numbers built back up again. It's gotten smaller over the past several years. We'd like to be able to have reserve games and have more than 25 on the team."
Skinner, 49, has until the Dec. 17 deadline for applications to put his name back into consideration.
The coach said he was "shocked, upset and disappointed" when he learned of the decision. The coach sent out a mass text message to his players to inform them that there was a chance he would not be returning.
"The majority of what I got back was sadness, shock and disappointment," he said. "The same feelings I had."
A 1981 Southern Local graduate, Skinner was a defensive coordinator at Southern Local, East Palestine, Campbell Memorial and Wellsville before taking over as the Tigers' head coach in 2007.
"I gave everything I could to that job and I have no regrets," he said. "From offseason lifting to work over the summer and going non-stop during the season. I always wanted to help the kids in any way I could. I think we did a lot of good things. And on the field, I think we got some wins that some people thought we never would."
In six seasons, Skinner led Wellsville to a 32-29 record. Prior to Skinner, the Tigers had suffered through five straight losing seasons (17-33). Wellsville qualified for the playoffs in 2011 under Skinner for the first time in a decade.
"I enjoy all of it," he said. "I enjoy the staff I assembled. I enjoy the kids. They are great kids. They are awesome. I'll never forget sitting in the locker room and talking with Tim Householder. After a win, loss, a good practice or a bad one, we'd sit there and talk. I have a lot of good memories there."
Skinner said there is a long list of people who have helped him during his time at Wellsville to which he owes a debt of gratitude.
"I want to thank the board, Richard Bereschik, Don Elliott and former principal Greg Davis for giving me the opportunity," he said. "If I end up not coming back, I have to thank all my players over the years, my staff, the Touchdown Club, Tim Householder, The Review sports staff, my wife, my girls and all the fans who supported the kids. And thanks to all the other head coaches in the league and area. I've developed some great friendships with them over the years."
Skinner said he would take a few days to discuss his decision with his family and close friends.
With his future up in the air, Skinner said there is no doubt he will be on a football field somewhere next season whether it be back at Wellsville or somewhere else.
"I'm going to be on the sidelines somewhere," he said. "Coaching is what I do. I love coaching. I could be an assistant coach or coordinator somewhere and I could just coach and wouldn't have to deal with all the other stuff. And there was a lot of other stuff this past year."
Even if Skinner ends up coaching a team other than the Tigers next season, he said he will always have a special place in his heart dedicated to Wellsville football.
"I'm not going to let a select few people dictate where my loyalty lies," Skinner said. "I might end up coaching against Wellsville next year, but any other week I'd be pulling for them. I still live in Wellsville and support Wellsville. I'm still a Wellsville guy."
NOTES: Skinner, who has lived in Wellsville for the past 18 years, has two daughters in the school system, Sarah, a senior, and Emily, a 7th grader. According to Rolley, the administration plans to have a coach under contract in about a month. "The deadline for applying is Dec. 17," she said. "We'll go through the candidates at that point. We hope to have a coach hired by the January board meeting."