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Coach in question after peewee football game turns brutal

By Lindsay Watts, Weekend GMC Anchor/Target 13 Investigator , l.watts@krdo.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 03:46:38 AM CST
Updated On: Aug 30 2013 05:41:05 PM CDT

Robert Jackson's jaw is wired shut after he says a player stomped on his face during a football scrimmage. What's worse, he says it was because a coach was egging on players to be aggressive.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

A coach and player's behavior is in question after a peewee football game turned brutal, leaving an 11-year-old boy with a broken jaw.

Robert Jackson said during a scrimmage Friday, a player on the opposing team intentionally stomped on his face after a play was over. He had to go through surgery and now his jaw is wired shut for six weeks.

"It's hard to explain the pain," Robert said. "It really hurt."

His mother teared up remembering what happened. She said her son was covered in blood, his jaw bone jutting through his skin.

"It was a scream I've never heard before," said Tanya Fleming. "It was a sound I can't get out of my head. He's gotten hurt before and he usually just gets right back up."

Robert said he had been successfully blocking the other player and the boy got angry. But Robert said there was another explanation for that child's violence.

"The coach was getting mad at him, yelling at him, in his face," Robert said. "To all the kids. And telling him, 'When they're down, kick 'em in the face and don't let them get back up,' and stuff like that."

"(The coach) was just over the top," said Robert's step-dad, Ryan Fleming. "More over the top than I've ever seen and I've played football my whole life."

It was another parent who initially contacted KRDO about what happened and she agreed the assistant coach was encouraging aggression and nasty tactics.

Colorado Springs Parks and Rec department runs the football league. Recreation Supervisor Gerry Strabala agreed to an on-camera interview, but later said his boss told him he couldn't be taped because a police investigation is underway. Strabala did meet to speak off-camera and said that neither the player nor assistant coach in question had been suspended.

"If I got rid of coaches based on what people told me, I'd be getting rid of coaches every day," Strabala said. "I have to be diligent and I have to get all the facts."

He said he expects to make a decision about the player and coach, who's been coaching on and off for three to four years, after police finish investigating and before that team's first game on September 7.

"It's a really unfortunate incident, to be honest with you," he said. "I feel really bad for the player."

Strabala said that all coaches get about ten hours of training and that the program is more "safety focused and hyper-vigilant" than it's ever been. He said while there's nothing wrong with telling players to be aggressive, telling them to "hit somebody or play dirty in any way shape or form is crossing the line."

The Flemings say they just want to ensure this doesn't happen again.

"My son was lucky; he had on pads, a helmet and a mouthpiece," said Tanya. "What if the next kid doesn't?"


    

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