A student at Douglas High School could face assault charges stemming from the Douglas football team’s “bear crawl” incident this week.
Early Monday morning, new head coach Jamison Wadley had players participate in a full body exercise known as “bear crawls” on an asphalt walkway beside the football field. In an earlier statement, Wigley said the exercise is common among local football programs — that morning, it was administered for disciplinary purposes.
Wigley said three students had “minor scrapes on their hands” after the bear crawls. Later, one parent confronted the coaching staff during practice, and then the same parent took to social media with pictures of his child’s blistered hands. He later spoke with a local television news station, but Wigley felt that led to a misrepresentation of the entire situation.
After the school system completed its investigation, Wigley released the following statement Thursday afternoon:
“It saddens me that we live in time where one parent can walk on a football field, yell and scream at a coach, and then get the attention of the news media in an effort to cover up his own actions,” Wigley stated.
“On Aug. 19, during first period athletic P.E. (7:40 a.m.) at Douglas High School, a coach had a group of football players do one set of ‘bear crawls’ on a walkway beside the football field. The vast majority of parents have no problem with the coach’s actions and support him 100%. However, one parent became upset with the coach. Instead of following proper protocol and privately discussing his concerns with school administration or with the coach, the parent came onto the practice field and confronted the coach in a belligerent manner. The parent’s actions caused a significant disruption at practice, and he has been banned from campus.
“Student safety is the upmost concern of the Marshall County School System and, therefore, the parent’s concerns were thoroughly investigated. The investigation revealed that most players had no injuries as a result of the ‘bear crawls,’ but that approximately three students had minor scrapes on their hands. It is well known that ‘bear crawls’ are commonly used as conditioning for football players in a number of school systems.
“One local television station displayed a picture showing an alleged injury to a student’s hand and misrepresented that it resulted from the ‘bear crawl’ when, in fact, the school system’s investigation revealed it was caused, in part, by unrelated events.The player is involved in power weight lifting outside of school with his dad. The parents understand the details of what took place and are very supportive of the coach and appreciate him making the boys into respectable young men. We are very fortunate to have Coach Wadley at Douglas High School.
“The Marshall County School System will remain vigilant in protecting student safety, but will also not unfairly cast blame on educators who are trying to do their jobs and better our students.”
Friday morning, Marshall County Sheriff’s Office Assistant Chief Deputy Steve Guthrie said a petition had been signed against a juvenile for an alleged assault against a Marshall County Schools educator. Guthrie said the possible charges were related to the “bear crawl” incident.
“The Marshall County Sheriff’s Office investigated two reports related to an incident that took place at Douglas High School on 8-19-19,” Guthrie stated. “At the conclusion of this investigation, a petition was signed against a juvenile for (second degree assault) on an educator, employed by the Marshall County Board of Education. The case has now been referred to the Juvenile Court of Marshall County for further prosecution.”