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Team Sports Strategies - News - 6.16.11

Breaking       news

The Breaking News section of the Coach And Athletic Director website is updated daily. Here are some recent highlights of particular interest to coaches, athletic directors and trainers.

Spring Jamboree High School Football Fight Is Costly For Both Teams

New LSU Softball Coach Accepts Offer, Resigns 3 Days Later

Smartphone App Helps Coaches Evaluate Concussions

Track Coach To Quit Amid Threat Of Litigation From Parents

Minnesota State HS League Changes Onside Kick Rule

Scott Bostwick, 49, Head Football Coach At NW Missouri State, Suffers Fatal Heart Attack

Spring Jamboree High School Football Fight Is Costly For Both Teams

The Alabama High School Athletic Association has levied more than $30,000 in fines against Sidney Lanier High and Mattie T. Blount High after a fight broke out during the spring "jamboree" football game between the two schools May 23.

 According to a letter sent from the AHSAA to both schools, a total of 91 players (35 from Lanier and 56 from Blount) were ejected for either participating in the fight or for leaving the bench during the fight. 

 Lanier was fined a total of $12,500 -- $300 for each ejected player and $2,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct -- but can reduce that amount to $4,000 if coaches and players participate in a variety of sportsmanship clinics and seminars and if players take online sportsmanship courses. 

 Blount was hit with $18,800 in fines, but can reduce its total to $6,300 by participating in the same courses. 

 The schools also were placed on two years of probation, and the 86 players ejected from the game for leaving the bench must serve a two-game suspension beginning next season. 

 Because the ejections occurred in an exhibition game, AHSAA officials will allow a fall jamboree game to count as one of the contests in which the players may serve their suspensions. 

 But Lanier will still be forced to sit 33 players -- and Blount 53 -- in their 2011 regular season openers. 

 "It was a bad situation, and we understand that," Blount head coach Kelvin Sigler said. "We're taking the appropriate actions to address our problems and make this right. We've already took part in one seminar in Montgomery, and we have more planned. 

 "The kids are going to do some community service work and we're going to use this as a teaching tool." 

 Lanier officials refused to comment on the situation. 

 Reached on his cell phone Wednesday, Poets head coach Angelo Wheeler said he was out of town and couldn't comment because school officials "don't want us to talk about it and make a bigger deal out of it. It is a big deal, but they don't want us to make it bigger." 

 Wheeler directed inquiries to Lanier athletic director Floyd Matthews. Matthews said he couldn't comment on the fight or the penalties imposed by the AHSAA. He said only principal Cheryl Smith-Fountain would be able to comment or provide a copy of the AHSAA's letter.
Numerous attempts to reach Smith-Fountain on Thursday were unsuccessful. She didn't return a message left on her voicemail, and front office workers at Lanier said she wouldn't have time to meet with a reporter in person.

 A copy of the AHSAA's letter and a list of corrective actions Lanier players and coaches are undertaking were obtained through Montgomery Public Schools communications officer Tom Salter. 

 The AHSAA letter outlines the numerous steps the players and coaches must undertake in order to reduce their fines and notes that the schools have already cut the $2,000 unsportsmanlike conduct fines in half by self-imposing several corrective actions. 

 According to the list of self-imposed corrective actions instituted by Lanier, all Lanier student-athletes involved will be forced to spend three hours working at a youth fishing rodeo June 18 and will spend more time working at senior citizen centers, day cares and community centers. 

 In addition, three players will spend 30 minutes three times per week for the next two months reading to children at local day-care centers. 

 All football players must attend a seminar and counseling session and complete eight hours of community service work with the Red Cross. 

 Lanier also is tacking on an additional one-game suspension for any player identified on game tape as throwing a punch, and no Lanier players will be allowed to participate in 7-on-7 camps this summer. 

 To reduce their fines from $300 to $100, each of the 91 players ejected from the game must take an AHSAA online behavioral course. 

 The two head coaches are also required to complete a professional development course, which includes meeting three times with former Robert E. Lee head coach Spence McCracken, who now serves as the AHSAA's mentoring instructor. 

Lanier is also placing Wheeler on a two-game sideline suspension and plans to dock all football coaches two days of pay this summer.

"There are several things we have to go through, and we've already begun the process," Sigler said. "We're working with Sidney Lanier and the AHSAA on this. We've been to one mentoring session, where (G.W. Carver head coach James Jackson) spoke to us.

"We're going to make it right and learn a lesson from this. I wish it hadn't happened, but learning from it and using it to teach our kids how to handle anger and aggression is the best we can do with it now."

In its letter, the AHSAA praised both schools for their "immediate response" to evaluate and resolve the incident.

It also notes that the two-year probation means the schools could be banned from post-season competition should another incident take place during the probationary period.

New LSU Softball Coach Accepts Offer, Resigns 3 Days Later, Randy Rosetta

Add another layer to the rivalry between LSU and Alabama.

In an abrupt change of heart, Patrick Murphy changed his mind Sunday and forced Tiger athletic director Joe Alleva to reopen the search for a new softball coach.

Murphy accepted the job late last week and was introduced Friday, accepting a contract reportedly in the $300,000 per-year range.

But his ties to Alabama, which he has taken to national prominence, were apparently too strong.

In a tersely worded press release, Alleva made it clear he’s not happy with Murphy’s sudden about-face.

“I am very disappointed in Patrick’s decision after he had committed to be our head coach,” Alleva said in the LSU-issued release. “I am especially disappointed for the young women on our team to whom he gave every indication he was in this for the long haul. We will use this opportunity to find a coach who will be the right leader for our student-athletes, who will wear the purple and gold with pride and will lead the softball program with integrity.”

Smartphone App Helps Coaches Evaluate Concussions

Charlotte News Observer, Tim Stevens

High school coaches in North Carolina are supposed to remove players from practice or games if they are suspected of having had a concussion. The players are not to return until after being cleared by a medical professional.

A new smartphone application should help coaches at all levels make informed decisions about whether a player has received a brain injury and needs to sit out. The app provides a way to evaluate signs and symptoms of a concussion, suggests an immediate course of action, stores data and even emails the evaluation to physicians, trainers, school officials, care givers or others.

"This is a tool that can help coaches make an informed decision about a player's condition," said Dr. Jason Mihalik, an assistant professor at the Matthew Gfeller Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center at the University of North Carolina who co-authored the application. "It does not diagnosis a concussion, but it helps evaluate a player."  

The app can help coaches and parents make decisions when a medical professional is not immediately available.

Bill Burniston, the certified athletic trainer at Middle Creek High, has not used the app, but he likes the concept.

"The three priorities for me as a certified athletic trainer are protecting the kids, protecting their academics and getting them back into playing," Burniston said. "In the Wake County high schools, I have great confidence that the other trainers have the same priorities.

"What concerns me is what happens on the middle school, club and recreation level. Who is going to be there to evaluate those injuries? This application sounds like a great thing."

Help for anyone

Concussions, which are traumatic brain injuries, can be difficult to assess. They are caused when the brain is shaken inside of the skull. The trauma causes a change in the way the brain works. Electrical and chemical processes are altered.

No imagery technology - no MRI, CAT scan or X-ray - can show a concussion, but medical professionals can diagnose a concussion by observing signs and symptoms.

The application will help coaches and parents recognize possible brain injuries and advise them to seek appropriate help. The app also provides guidance through the recovery process.

The app is available on iTunes for $3.99. The portion of proceeds that go to Mihalik and Dr. Gerard A. Gioia, who co-authored the app, go to the Matthew Gfeller Center at UNC Chapel Hill and to the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where Gioia is a clinician and researcher.

The coach and parent version of the Concussion Recognition and Response - another version is being developed for certified athletic trainers - can be used on devices such as iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android devices and tablets.

The app is designed for high school, middle school, recreation and club coaches and parents.

"We have a lot of good information out there in a written form, but we wanted something that would pull it together and be very easy to use," Gioia said. "With the paper version, you have to negotiate through the pages. With the app, we can deliver information and take in information."

Mike Guerrero, the Garner High athletic trainer, said keeping the information in an easy to use format is appealing.

"Much of the time I end up making notes on a piece of gauze or something until I can get to my office," he said.

Easy to use

The application is simple to use. Using a touch screen, the user answers questions about the blow that caused the suspected injury.

Next, the answers to 14 questions about the signs of a concussion - things like vomiting or balance issues - are evaluated along with the answers to 14 questions about symptoms - such as headache, nausea, memory loss.

The app evaluates the information and gives a suggested course of action.

A GPS system plots where the evaluation was done and emergency medical assistance can be summoned by pressing a button. An email function allows the information to be immediately forwarded to a school athletic trainer, coach, school nurse, parent, guidance counselor or other involved party.

The application also has a home monitoring function and a return-to-play guide. Parents or care givers can record the results of periodic evaluations as the player recovers.

In addition to having the answers to frequently asked questions, the app also stresses that recovery is more than becoming physically able to play sports.

"If a student has a badly sprained ankle, we would not put them on a treadmill and have them run while they are recovering," Mihalik said. "We can see a swollen ankle and discoloration. We can't see a brain injury, but the brain needs time to recover, too."

Better understanding

Gioia said the easiest part of a player's recovery may be athletically.

The harder aspect is returning to the classroom.

"How much should the student attempt in the classroom as the brain recovers?" Gioia said. "That is difficult."

Middle Creek's Burniston said a part of his job is notifying the guidance office at the school when a player has a brain injury.

Understanding concussions is important because the injury often is accompanied by changes that can affect classroom work.

Students may have light sensitivity, difficulty learning new concepts and lack the ability to focus. The teachers of a student with a concussion need to be told about the injury, Mihalik said.

"I remember years ago before we understood concussions as much as we do now, there sometimes would be a really good student whose grades and character would slip," Burniston said. "People would say he got in with the wrong crowd, but looking back, I wonder if there had been a concussion.

"You really wonder if kids are injured away from school and they go untreated because parents or coaches didn't recognize the signs and symptoms.

"This app could really help."

Track Coach To Quit Amid Threat Of Litigation From Parents

New Hampshire Union Leader, Mark Hayward

MANCHESTER — Popular Central High School track coach Kelly Fox appears ready to resign, as parents of two of her student-athletes have taken steps to sue the Manchester school district over the way they say Fox treated their children.

In a letter dated Tuesday, Fox told parents and friends that she submitted a letter of resignation on Friday. But Fox said she will meet with the administration and the school district attorney at the end of the school year to discuss issues with the track program.

“It seems as though if I continuing (sic) coaching at Central I will not have the ability to repremand (sic) ALL the athletes on my team due to it being called retaliation,” Fox wrote in the letter.

Last fall, Fox was placed on leave while district officials investigated allegations made by two athletes, Elizabeth and Alexandra Conway.

She was reinstated after an outpouring of support from other track athletes and their parents.

The Conways, however, are continuing to push the matter.

In a writ filed in Hillsborough County Superior Court, the Conways say that Fox “threatened, reprimanded, verbally harassed, and sometimes physically accosted Elizabeth and Alexandra.”

They said the behavior violated state laws against bullying, and the Conways suffered retaliation in a number of forms once the district started to investigate Fox.

The claim is made in a 22-page writ of summons (click to view), which was filed recently in Hillsborough County Superior Court. It names the Manchester school district, Manchester school board and board member Joe Briggs as defendants. It asks for a jury trial.

The paperwork said the plaintiffs suffer from anxiety, mental anguish, distress, disappointment, embarrassment, grief, indignation, public humiliation, hatred and ridicule. It asks for compensatory and enhanced compensatory damage as well as attorney fees and any other costs. The filing against Briggs claims defamation of character. Briggs' lawyer, Joe Kelly Levasseur, said he received the claims this week.

He called the complaint “ridiculous and unfounded.” He called it an attempt through legal intimidation to stop elected officials from looking into constituent complaints.

“When the good people of Manchester learn the facts of this case and the relentless unconventional behavior engaged in by Mrs. Conway over the years, the will understand why Joe Briggs had no other choice but to stand up for his constituents and Central's track coach,” Levasseur said.

Efforts to reach Michael Conway last night were unsuccessful. A female answering the telephone at their Walnut Street home said nothing had been filed, but discontinued the conversation.

Superintendent Tom Brennan said lawyers with the district and the Conways have been involved in conversations, but no official lawsuit has been filed that he knows of.

“Whatever it is, I was hoping we'd be able to resolve it,” Brennan said.

“In my opinion, I think we've followed the rules and the policies set forth, as well as the law,” Brennan said.

Claims in the suit include:

-- The Conways met five times with the school superintendent, four times with Central Principal John Rist and twice with Athletic Director Jane Clayton before Elizabeth mentioned Fox's behavior to Mayor Ted Gatsas. Gatsas relayed her concerns to Brennan, the superintendent started an investigation and said Fox's behavior could be construed as bullying.

-- Fox retaliated by threatening a lawsuit against the Conways and asked for an apology.

-- During an Oct. 4 meeting with track parents, Clayton encouraged retaliatory behavior by letting parents say they were behind Fox 200 percent and they want her returned as soon as possible.

-- The school district took no action against employees on an email list of a parent group in support of Fox. The group specifically wrote about how to retaliate against and bully the Conway children.

-- An unnamed English teacher and friend of Fox claimed that “Elizabeth (Conway) has no consequences.”

“The only reasonable inference from this teacher's communication is that she wanted the retaliation — that she knew about — to continue or, worse, to escalate.”

-- The parent group had shirts made that read “I run for COACH FOX.”

Rist instructed the students not to wear them, but they later wore them at an awards ceremony, as did parents of team members and a school district employee.

Minnesota State HS League Changes Onside Kick Rule

St. Paul Pioneer Press, Tim Leighton

The Minnesota State High School League's board of directors approved an experimental rule for football that would require at least four players on each side of the kicker when an onside kick is attempted.

The experiment, supported by coaches and officials, is designed to restrict unsafe contact. The NCAA has a similar rule. The experimental rule will be implemented this fall. A permanent change could come in 2012 or '13.

Scott Bostwick, 49, Head Football Coach At NW Missouri State, Suffers Fatal Heart Attack

 With heavy hearts and a look of dispair on each of their faces, a downtrodden group of Northwest Missouri State representatives met with the media Sunday evening in Lamkin Activity Center to discusss the passing of head football coach Scott Bostwick.

 President John Jasinski, athletic director Wren Baker, former head coach Mel Tjeersdma and the remaining members of the current coaching staff stood together in a row, each one wearing the emotional strain of the day's events.

None of them could've forseen that Bostwick, 49, would suffer a fatal heart attack on Sunday morning, sending Bearcat nation into a collective state of shock.

"It's a tough day," said Tjeerdsma. "It's a day we weren't expecting. We're all hurting right now. Just like Wren said and Dr. Jasinski said, we're all Bearcats. We're family, and that's what's going to get us through. Our focus right now is on family and everything we can do to help them."

The grieving process began with a team meeting and an impromptu press conference that was used as a tribute to a man who most everyone in the Bearcat community held in high regard.

Baker opened the press conference by making a brief statement concerning Bostwick's death.

He mentioned the team meeting that took place earlier in the day saying, "we laughed and cried as we took turns talking about coach Bostwick, what he stood for and what he meant to each of us."

Jasinski followed with a series of remarks in which he praised Bostwick's love of family, his integrity and his passion for the job.

"When you think about the Bearcats over the last over 100 years, he stands with everyone of the best Bearcats ever. Period," said Jasinski.

Jasinski concluded his remarks by saying, "goodbye papa Bearcat."

During the question and answer session that followed, each of the coaches offered their rememberances of a man who they loved and respected both personally and professionally.

Tjeerdsma, who hired Bostwick as his defensive coordinator in 1993, was the first to speak on his behalf.

"He brought a lot of life to our program," said Tjeerdsma. "There's no doubt about that. Energy, enthusiasm, you can just go on and on. More so now than ever before. The last five months when he was leading the program it was fun to see because he was so excited about having that opportunity. That was his strength. He was a motivator. He was a hard motivator, but a motivator through love, too."

Offensive coordinator Adam Dorrel said he appreciated the fact that Bostwick was always honest with him both as a player and a coach.

"I was an offensive lineman, and I think that's one of the things I learned from him was he was brutally honest with you," said Dorrel. "I think at that age when you're 18 or 19 and you first get here, your parents always tell you what you want to here. Scott was one of the first people in my life that didn't tell you that. We always knew where you stood with him. The kids always knew where they stood with him."

Dorrel also noted that while Bostwick had the perception as a no-non-sense, in-your-face kind of guy, he deeply cared about his players and would go out of his way to offer praise.

Richard Wright, who took over for Bostwick as the team's defensive coordinator when he became head coach, credits much of his football expertise to spending time around Bostwick.

"A lot of what I learned about defensive football, I learned from coach Bostwick and my job isn't to re-invent the wheel," said Wright. "He's going to be a big part of this, and he will always be."

Wright estimates they spent an hour sharing stories about Bostwick during the team meeting, and if they had time, "we could've stayed four or five more."

"We all had a good coach Bostwick story," said Wright. "He was an amazing person. I don't think that he realized how many people he touched."

Even Baker, who only knew Bostwick for a few months, was blown away with his passion for Bearcat football.

"I'm not sure I've ever been around a coach who lived it more than Scott," said Baker. "He ate, slept and breathed Bearcat football. It was contagious, and it was impressive."

Bostwick accepted the head coaching job in December after Tjeerdsma announced his retirement.

He had spent the previous 26 years as a defensive coordinator, the last 17 at Northwest.

This, by all accounts was Bostwick's dream job, and all of his assistants shared in the disappointment that he never got to coach his first game.

"It was his turn to lead our program," said Dorrel. "That's what's hard for us right now as a coaching staff because he was genuinely excited about that."

Bostwick's death came a day after the team hosted its first in a series of weekend camps in June.

All indications were, he was doing fine.

"It's surreal. It really is," said Wright. "I was out there all day long with him yesterday, and I've been asked this question a thousand times, he was energetic and active as he ever was. He was the same old Scott."

Sunday morning, Baker said he received a phone call around 11 or 11:30 a.m. notifying him of Bostwick's death. He immediately rushed to St. Francis Hospital where he met the rest of the coaching staff.

Wright hurried over to the hospital from a local grocery store after learning of the incident.

"I walked into the grocery state and someone said there was an ambulance in front of his house," said Wright. "I ran out of the grocery store and went to the hospital, so I was one of the first people that found out."

Tjeerdsma was in the middle of a Sunday morning church service when news of Bostwick's death was passed along to him.

"It's an unbelivable shock," said Tjeerdsma. "It's something none of us really ever expect, but it happens. That's the reality of life."

The other reality that Northwest will soon face is the prospect of moving forward without their enthusiastic leader.

But right now, football is the last thing on anyone's mind.

The primary concern for Northwest's coaching staff is the welfare of Bostwick's family.

Bostwick was survived by his wife, Sue, and two children, Leah and Eric.

As of Sunday night, no funeral services had been arranged.


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