A high school wrestling coach in Oregon who allegedly assaulted one of his own student athletes following a lost match then resigned from his position, per a report from Medford Mail Tribune.
As reported by the paper, now former North Medford head wrestling coach Phillip Lopez submitted his resignation in February just two weeks before his team was to compete in the state championships. The resignation followed just weeks on from a reported assault on January 6, when a 15-year-old wrestler claims he was struck “multiple times” on his head and neck after two losses at a tournament in California.
Yet, the actual transgression trends into more gray area than it may seem. According to reports taken by Medford police, the coach struck the teen in the back of the neck area as part of a demonstration of a match-starting wrestling move called “cuffing.” Here’s more from the Mail Tribune:
On the night of Jan. 6, Lopez allegedly told the teen and another North Medford athlete to follow him outside to a secluded area outside the gym. Lopez allegedly had the teen stand in front of him, then “grabbed him by the back of his neck and bent him over.”
The sophomore told police that Lopez hit him “in the back of his head and neck area and kept hitting him, saying this is how you ‘cuff’ someone,” according to the police report.
After being hit “several times,” the teen said, the coach allegedly “called him a ‘p*ssy’ and told him to leave.”
While there’s little question that the coach’s actions crossed the line of reasonability, there’s also a defense there that what he was essentially attempting a misguided coaching lesson.
Instead, he may have assaulted a teenager, at the cost of his own coaching future.