An Alabama superintendent has backed his high school football coach against an onslaught of parental complaints after an alleged disciplinary activity left a group of student athletes injured.
As reported by Alabama CBS affiliate WHNT, Douglas (Ala.) High School football coach Jamison Wadley forced his team to perform bear crawls (slow moving walks over a surface on all fours) across a hot asphalt surface that was the length of a football field … and back. The end result was a wide range of minor (but painful) injuries to players’ extremities, which in turn infuriated the parents of those players.
“It’s horrible — it hurts me just to see them,” Stephen Stone, the father of one of the players involved, told WHNT. “I want the school to do something to ensure the parents that their children can go to school and be safe.”
However, despite the clear physical injuries suffered by some of the players, Marshall County Schools Superintendent Cindy Wigley backed Wadley and his methods, as she released in a statement to the media and school community.
“There’s nothing more important than the safety and integrity of our students. You’ve heard me say that on more than one occasion. It’s never been more true than today. I want to address a situation at Douglas High School that occurred yesterday. Due to rumors and talk, it has gotten out of control. It’s my job to help you understand what has happened. A situation took place early yesterday morning. It involved a coach and some players. It was brought to my attention and I have addressed the situation. Unfortunately, since that time, an individual outside our school, specifically a parent, has become involved. This has threatened the safety of our coach, players and other parents at the school. I will not tolerate threats, harassment or physical abuse against any of our staff or students. While there were unintended consequences from the coach’s actions, students must also be held accountable for their actions. Knowing all the facts about what has occurred, I want the community to know that I support our coach, who wants nothing but the best for our student athletes and the school he serves. I have asked sheriff’s deputies to help patrol the Douglas High School campus to keep our students, staff and parents safe. I will continue to do so. Please help me do all I can to keep our students in a safe and friendly environment. Help me protect our students by helping manage rumors and talk that is unhealthy. Thank you.”
So, not only did Wigley defend her coach, she also brought in police to help patrol the campus — allegedly to keep trouble making parents away? — and fully faulted the students for needing to be disciplined in the first place.
Add in that there are no established disciplinary measures to penalize a coach who engages in acts of physical discipline as Wadley did, and it’s understandable why parents are insisting the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office fully investigate the two incident reports that have been filed about the practice.