It’s still unclear why the move was made — not only to Rainbow, but to the entire Spartans football community.
Let me state at the forefront. Magee was given an opportunity to give her side of the story, but she and Cobb County School District spokesman Jay Dillon said they could not comment on personnel issues.
Rainbow, on the other hand, hasn’t been shy about giving his side of the story.
“I will not abandon these kids,” he said. “It’s more important for the kids and the community to know that leaving wasn’t my idea.
“When you get fired from a job, I have to defend myself. I have to be able to tell a prospective employer what happened. And when an employer lets you go, telling the truth shouldn’t be a problem.”
Rainbow said that when he met with Magee last Monday, she told him she wanted to take the program in a different direction. With Campbell moving into a new region next fall, Magee was apparently concerned with the team’s development and wanted to make a change.
That’s all fine and good. Cobb County athletic director Steve Jones said a school’s principal has every right to make a change. The principals get the final word on who will and won’t be their coaches, and Magee inherited Rainbow from former Campbell principal Grant Rivera.
But this decision doesn’t make sense.
Here are a few facts about the Campbell football program under Rainbow.
When he arrived in 2011, the program was coming off a 1-9 season and had 35 kids in the program.
At the end of the 2013 season, the Spartans were 4-6, but they had averaged more points per game (29) than any team in the history of present-day Campbell High School, and 110 kids were playing football.
This is a continuous trend for Rainbow. He has always had a history of taking down-on-their-luck programs and giving them the necessary foundations they needed to become successful.
Rainbow had proven that by taking Riverwood from 0-10 to 5-5, and Worth County from 3-8 to 6-6 and a trip to the playoffs — each in a span of two years.
He was well on his way with Campbell, too — until last Monday.
“I hate it because (the opportunity) was taken away from us,” Rainbow said.
Something else that can’t be denied is the shape the Campbell booster club is in right now.
When Rainbow arrived three years ago, the club was $19,000 in debt, and then it had the misfortune of having to deal with a community scandal where the club treasurer allegedly was caught using the funds for personal purchases.
Since then, fundraisers organized and Rainbow put the booster club back in the black. It’s been solvent for two years and it has allowed the team to keep one of the lowest player registration fees in the county ($60).
Speaking of the booster club, its members are less than thrilled with Rainbow’s exit, too. In fact, club members wrote a letter to Magee last week saying as much.
The MDJ obtained a copy of the letter, and it said:
“The booster club fully supports Coach Rainbow and his plan for the team. Our football program is so much more than what it was before his involvement. Coach Rainbow and his team have helped our players learn to be better players, friends, brothers, sons and husbands. Our program has been through enough diversity without the dismissal of one of its champions.
“One of the core values on the (Cobb County School District) website is integrity — demonstrating honesty, consistency, taking responsibility for action and being worth of trust. What does it say for you to fire someone that you admitted has been good for the program, but you want to change anyway? Knowing that, who could possibly trust that they had your support any longer?
“We are outraged regarding this decision. I cannot find adequate words to explain how the removal of Coach Rainbow has crippled this program.”
The letter was signed by booster club president Vivian Fussell, vice president Natalie Beavers and treasurer Donna Hawkins.
Members of the Cobb County high school football community have been shaking their heads at Rainbow’s dismissal, too. Every coach I spoke with has backed Rainbow, and that’s why he has already gotten numerous phone calls about possibly joining other schools’ coaching staffs as an assistant next year.
“I don’t think (Magee) thought this thing through,” one local athletic director said. “She’s going to find out programs need coaches like Harris Rainbow.”
It’s this kind of support that Rainbow said he is thankful for.
“I have not found any teacher or community member that has not come up to me and offered their support or given me a hug,” Rainbow said. “I’m very proud of what we accomplished, and it makes me realize how good of a job we did.”
None of this is meant to be a pity party for Rainbow. His teaching job is secured, but if he wanted to leave Campbell and continue coaching, there would likely be plenty of opportunities coming his way.
What Rainbow is concerned about is the kids he is forced to leave behind, and not because of what might or might not happen to them on Friday nights between the sidelines.
“I’ve always told kids, I didn’t come to Campbell to win football games,’” Rainbow said. “I told them I came there to make them better people — better sons, (and eventually) better fathers and husbands. The wins began to come after that.”
As of Saturday, Rainbow said Magee had not allowed him to call a team meeting to allow him to address the players as a group. He said he has had to call or track down each player at school to let him know leaving was not his idea.
“I wanted them to know I loved them,” Rainbow said, “and that I will always be there for them. No matter what happens, I will always be their coach.”