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Tornado youth football coaches, parent scuffle at game

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A sideline altercation among two coaches and a parent on Sunday could cost a Tornado youth football team its future.

St. Albans police officers were called to the Hayes Middle School football field at about 3 p.m. Sunday, where the Tornado Tigers were facing off against the Campbells Creek Cougars. The Tigers' D team, consisting of players 5 to 9 years old, had just won the game.

Police Capt. James Agee said two Tornado coaches began a screaming match over the allocation of each player's time on the field. One witness said an assistant coach was upset with the head coach for allowing players from St. Albans and Dunbar to join their team.

The parent of a St. Albans player, apparently angry that his son's playing time was in jeopardy, came down from the stands and started an altercation, Agee said. The parent choked one coach while the other coaches tried to pull him off.

The men bumped into cheerleaders along the sidelines, said Belinda Rhodes, a parent and former board member for the Tigers team.

The combatants also stepped on a player's foot during the scuffle before police arrived to defuse the situation, Agee said.

Agee did not have the parent's name but said the man would stop by the police station sometime this week to accept a citation for battery. The man, who is the only one facing charges from the incident, has apologized for his actions and is cooperating with the investigation, Agee said.

Tigers D team head coach Dewayne Kelley and assistant coach Josh McCallister have resigned, Rhodes said. The team's board members also banned the parent from games for life, but his children will still be allowed to play. However, the Kanawha Valley Youth Football League has canceled the team's home games and several playoff games in September -- and now there's a question if the team's funding will continue, Rhodes said.

Officials with the Kanawha Valley Youth Football League did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday. Ernie Hedrick, president of the Tigers, did not immediately return phone messages.

Rhodes said it's a shame the children are suffering from the actions of a few adults.

She said she and "some other parents just don't even know how to react."

Agee said this is not the first incident involving rowdy adults at children's sporting events in St. Albans, but, he said, the city is not affiliated with these teams.

"These are the grown-ups," he said. "These are supposed to be the people in charge. It just sets a very poor example."

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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