Former Rancho Bernardo (Calif.) baseball player sues school, coaches for punch to the head

Former Rancho Bernardo (Calif.) baseball player sues school, coaches for punch to the head

Outside The Box

Former Rancho Bernardo (Calif.) baseball player sues school, coaches for punch to the head

A former baseball player at Rancho Bernardo High in California has filed a lawsuit seeking unknown damages from the Poway Unified School District, Rancho Bernardo High School’s former varsity coach (Sam Blalock), the school’s principal, and former freshman coach Dan Kelly. All of the charges come in connection with an incident in which the unnamed player was allegedly punched in the head by Kelly.

As reported by the San Diego Reader, the culture behind Rancho Bernardo is put at center stage in the lawsuit, which cites a hyper aggressive commitment to winning regardless of age as key contributing factors to the alleged abusive strike.

Here’s what the lawsuit cites specific to the afternoon where the player was punched, which has allegedly created issues with vision and other faculties for the victim:

“The Warriors coach set upon [the team] in the heat of the summer sun, meting out corporal punishment through forced runs and endless rounds of pushups, sit-ups, and other exercises. Kelly interrogated each of the players individually in the freshman dugout, and further compelled them to write verbatim what was written on the helmet cubbie to serve as a comparative exemplar to the actual scrawl. When the boys collectively and individually denied all knowledge of the dugout scrawl, Kelly became more angered and ordered even more physical punishment. The children grew exhausted.”

Kelly allegedly continued. He ordered the players to do push-ups. He then straddled one player’s back while he yelled at him. Kelly allegedly hit the boy in the back of the head. The boy collapsed.

An assistant coach was later overheard saying, “[Expletive Kelly], you could have killed the kid.” The assistant coach later described the punch to a detective as “violent.”

That is a disturbing account of Kelly’s alleged actions. If true, and if they can be substantiated as behind the players subsequent health issues, everyone should absolutely be appalled. That includes Kelly’s fellow coaches and others connected with the Rancho Bernardo program.

There are additional layers of bureaucracy and legal red tape involved, but the core issue remains that a coach allegedly punched a middle schooler in the back of the head during a fit of rage, was let go a year later and the purported victim was then still held off the field by other coaches. They are astounding allegations, and are made all the more notable because Kelly has moved on to become a minor league coach in the Diamondbacks system since.

More USA TODAY High School Sports
Home