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High school football drill leads to Marshall County Sheriff's Office investigation

WAAY 31 spoke with players and parents about the situation.

Posted: Aug 21, 2019 4:50 PM
Updated: Aug 21, 2019 5:49 PM

A Facebook post is the center of a Marshall County Sheriff's Office investigation.

The post shows pictures of blisters on a Douglas High School football player's hands after doing a bear crawl drill at practice. Because of backlash from the post, the superintendent told WAAY 31 she's asked sheriff's deputies to help patrol the high school.

The Marshall County Sheriff's Office says it is investigating two reports, but couldn't specify what those reports involve.

WAAY 31 met with players and parents who say the post is an unfair representation of what really happened. Superintendent Cindy Wigley said in a statement, "Due to rumor and talk, the situation has gotten out of control."

"All the players support coach, so that's all that really matters, I think," Cameron Mitchell, a senior Douglas High School football player, said. "To think he would hurt us on purpose like that, it's absurd. He would never do that."

Parents say at around 7:30 Monday morning, the team was told to do bear crawls as a punishment. Players say they were instructed to do the exercise on the asphalt, because not everyone had athletic shoes and clothes. 

"He wanted us to do a bear crawl, and that's normal pretty much," Austin Hook, a freshman Douglas High School football player, said.

The players said scratches can happen if you use the wrong form. They said after Monday's practice, three kids had minor injuries. Despite those injuries, players said every kid showed up for afternoon practice.

"One guy got hurt and coach told them they could finish on the grass," Mitchell said.

Superintendent Wigley told WAAY 31 the situation has threatened the safety of coaches, players and other parents at the school. Since this exercise, parents say one parent came to the football field and confronted the coach.

"We are ready for this to be over with, so these kids can worry about school, can worry about football, can worry about going out there next Friday night and having a good time playing football," a parent, Scott Teal, said.

WAAY 31 reached out to the parent who posted the pictures and we haven't heard back. 

Superintendent Wigley's full statement is below:

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.

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