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West Milford Rallies To Help Ousted Basketball Coach Return For 29th Season

John Finke has spent 28 seasons as head coach of the West Milford High School boys' basketball team.
John Finke has spent 28 seasons as head coach of the West Milford High School boys' basketball team. Photo Credit: Facebook

WEST MILFORD, N.J. – Supporters of veteran West Milford High School basketball coach John Finke are expected to turn out Tuesday to help him fight for his job.

In May, Finke --  the head boy's basketball coach for 28 years --came up a vote shy of having his contract renewed for a 29th season.

Finke, who had the support of the superintendent, needed five yes votes from West Milford Board of Education members, but received four yes votes, two no votes, and one abstention, while two members were not in attendance for the vote.

With the approval of a new coach on the agenda for Tuesday’s board meeting, Finke and his supporters plan to make the case for reinstating the veteran coach.

“We have a group of people that are going to show up at the board meeting and be passionate and enthusiastic and speak from their heart. Former players, guys I’ve coached against, parents, myself, community leaders,” Finke said.

“We are going to address the board civilly, but we are going to do it with passion, and we are going to hope that they will listen. And maybe they will make a revote,” Finke said.

Finke said that before learning his contract would not be renewed, he had planned to coach for one or two more years, and help transition a new head coach into the program.

“I have a very good team coming back. Kids that we put into the varsity lineup as freshmen to get them ready for this year and next year,” he said. “We were in a rebuilding cycle, and now we were going to see those two years of hard work pay off.”

Finke’s supporters are circulating an online petition to present to the board. As of Tuesday morning, the petition had more than 420 signatures.

The West Milford Board of Education meeting is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 27, at Westbrook School.

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