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Posts Tagged ‘Pleasure Ridge Park

As the Stinson turns (barely)

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David Jason Stinson, he of the reckless-homicide-charged-and-being-sued-former-football-coach-whose-player-died-of-dehydration-days-after-running-gassers-at-a-hot-preseason-practice David Jason Stinsons, appeared in court in Louisville, Ky., today for a pretrial conference in his criminal case.

Nothing happened.

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As the Stinson turns, latest edition

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According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Jefferson County school district is investigating allegations of retaliation against Pleasure Ridge Park High football players who spoke to police after last August’s death of teammate Max Gilpin.

Gilpin was the 15-year-old who died a few days after collapsing in practice after Coach David Jason Stinson forced the team to run “gassers” in a heat index of 94 degrees after he was displeased with their effort. Stinson has pleaded not guilty to reckless homicide charges in a rare case of a coach being held criminally liable for an athlete’s death. His trial is scheduled to begin in August. Stinson, as well as the school district and other coaches, is being sued by Gilpin’s parents in a wrongful death case. Stinson is no longer Pleasure Ridge Park’s football coach.

From the C-J:

Superintendent Sheldon Berman said [April 24] that he has asked Joe Burks, assistant superintendent of high schools, to look into the allegations.

Berman said he has not received any complaints but was asked about the matter during a deposition last week in a lawsuit filed by Max’s parents, Michele Crockett and Jeff Gilpin.

“As soon as I got back (to the office), I instructed my staff to investigate,” he said.

If there is retaliation against students, Berman said it would be “completely inappropriate.”

“It should not even be a topic for discussion,” he said. “No student should be harassed in any way for what they told the police.”

The Courier-Journal has received several calls from PRP parents who said their children were being retaliated against because of the statements they gave police. They asked not to be named.

The story doesn’t mention exactly what kind of retaliation is being meted out, and exactly who is meting it out to exactly whom, by name at least.

There also are conflicting statements about whether fundraising for Stinson’s legal defense is happening on school grounds.

Several other parents who have contacted the newspaper said they are concerned that fundraising is being done during school hours to raise money for Stinson’s defense and that their children are being encouraged to wear T-shirts supporting Stinson.

Lauren Roberts, spokeswoman for the district, said yesterday that neither PRP nor the district has received any complaints from parents about fundraising.

[Principal David] Johnson “has advised me that there are no fundraising activities occurring on school property or during school hours,” Roberts said in an e-mail.

She said that earlier in the school year “there was a youth recreation league that sold T-shirts after school in support of the coach, but Mr. Johnson stopped that.”

Turning down the heat in Kentucky — more Gilpin death aftermath

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As reported by the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Kentucky Medical Association’s committee on sports medicine met Thursday to discuss what coaches should do in case of a heat-related illness suffered by a player. The meeting happened the same week Kentucky Gov. Steve Brashear signed a bill requiring high school coaches to take a 10-hour course taught by a doctor or another qualified professional on health safety issues, such as recognizing emergencies, first aid, and signs of heat- and cold-related conditions. Not every coach technically has to take and complete the class, but every high school athletic practice and game must be attended by at least one person who has.

This is the outgrowth of the death last August of 15-year-old Max Gilpin of Louisville after he collapsed during a hot Pleasure Ridge Park High School football practice. Former coach David Jason Stinson has pleaded not guilty to a charge of reckless homicide and is among the many being sued by Gilpin’s parents over his death. The criminal trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 31, with some coaches and coaching associations giving money to Stinson’s legal defense in fear of what a conviction would mean for their jobs.

The Kentucky bill originally proposed that ice baths and defibrillators be available at every practice, but that was dropped because of schools’ concerns on costs and physicians’ concerns that those devices aren’t always the best course of immediate treatment.

As the Stinson turns

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A lot has happened since the last time we discussed David Jason Stinson, the Louisville high school football coach facing criminal prosecution and a civil lawsuit after one of his players, Max Gilpin, collapsed in practice and died.

To summarize what’s happened in the last month, ever since Stinson refused to answer questions at his deposition for the civil lawsuit:

Feb. 16: Pleasure Ridge Park High School principal David Johnson, Stinson’s boss and a former football coach at the school, didn’t do himself or his football coach any favors by saying during his deposition that he never investigated what happened during that fateful Aug. 20, 2008, practice — bad enough, except he emailed one parent that he had conducted a “thorough investigation.” He also said he deleted any parent emails because they appeared to be “hate mail” — even though, as the aforementioned sentence shows, he responded to messages from parents describing what they saw and heard at that football practice. Finally, Johnson said athletic director Craig Webb didn’t tell him about Gilpin’s collapse until 18 hours after it happened. Webb told the school district athletic director, as is protocol. Gilpin died of septic shock on Aug. 23, three days after his collapse. (Full deposition, thanks to the Louisville Courier-Journal, is here.)

Feb. 19: Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Sheldon Berman says his office will look at how Johnson handled the Gilpin incident. “[W]e’re studying the deposition and working with him on some of the issues,” he said. One issue: trying to recover the emails Johnson deleted. However, Berman also told the Courier-Journal that the district began investigating the Gilpin case two days after it happened, and that information it gathered contradicts other accounts of Stinson and his assistants denying players water and running them excessively on a day the heat index hit 94.

Feb. 22: A Louisville judge approves adding Johnson, Webb and assistant football coach Josh Lightle as defendents in the civil suit, joining Stinson and five other assistants. The judge also demands the school district hand over its internal investigation.

Feb. 24: The Kentucky House Education Committee clears legislation that would require ice pools at all high school practices and games when the heat index is 94 degrees or above; requires coaches to be trained in the use of automatic external defibrillators for treating cardiac arrest (they already must know CPR); encourages school boards to purchase the devices and make them available at practices at games; and requires the Kentucky High School Athletic Association to revise its heat policy to consider pollution levels on hot days. The Kentucky School Boards Association supports the bill, filed because of Gilpin’s death.

March 2: The full House passes the bill, but without the ice-pool requirement. The bill’s sponsor withdrew on advice of the Kentucky Medical Association, which said it would help the state board of education develop protocol for treating overheating. Emergency physicians worried that ice pools would not be an effective treatment in all cases.

March 2: The prosecution turns over its evidence to Stinson’s defense (he has pleaded not guilty to reckless homicide). The most damning evidence (drawn from witness interviews) is that despite the hot day, Stinson denied his players water as he added “gassers” (sprints) at the end of practice because he though his players weren’t hustling enough. Players said Stinson called anyone who couldn’t finish the gassers a “coward.” After Gilpin collapsed, Stinson told players to stay away from him “because you’re not his mother or his nurse.”  Stinson told players he was going to run them until somebody quits, and didn’t let anyone take a water break until the end — and then only briefly.

(An editorial comment here. I’m coaching junior kids in basketball, and believe you me I understand the frustration when you have a group of kids who are farting around or otherwise uninspired. And that’s even though my livelihood and ability to pay my mortgage aren’t predicated on their performance. Even if what the prosecution says is true, a lot of coaches are going to look at what Stinson did and say for the grace of God goes I. Also, they’re going to wonder how to punish players who aren’t sufficiently focused, because extra running is a pretty common penalty. This is why a lot of coaches, sickened as they may be over Gilpin’s death, would see the criminal and civil cases as attacks on their authority and profession.)

March 4: Berman tells the Courier-Journal that Stinson, suspended from coaching and reassigned to noninstructional status since his Jan. 21 indictment, will not be back as head football coach. The newspaper notes that it hopes, what with Pleasure Ridge Park being a public school and all, that religion doesn’t play a part again in whom Johnson hires as football coach. It cites this Aug. 25 response, revealed in his civil suit deposition, that Johnson sent to a parent email (apparently it wasn’t hate mail) about Stinson’s qualifications:  “Our head football coach was hired based not only on his knowledge of football, but also because of his strong Christian beliefs and integrity toward his job and the treatment of all who know him.”

March 7: Former Kentucky medical examiner George Nichols, hired by Stinson’s defense for the civil suit, says it wasn’t heat stroke that killed Gilpin. It was Adderall, a drug prescribed for ADHD that includes an amphetamine, which causes overheating. (Nichols has made a career out of being a medical expert for the defense since leaving public service.) The Courier-Journal shows another doctor the hospital records on Gilpin, and he agrees with Nichols. Having a jury (or juries) accept this finding would be huge for Stinson. The case against him is predicated on his denying water on an excessively hot day. If the death is blamed on Adderall, then Stinson is likely off the hook. Maybe a giant douchenozzle, but off the hook.

March 9: Despite supportive testimony from Kentucky football coach Rich Brooks, the Kentucky Senate Education committee waters down the Gilpin-related bill. Instead, it recommends a study on the issue, given the conflicting medical information on how to treat heat-related injuries, and superintendents’ concern about the cost of buying all those defibrillators and providing all that safety training.

March 13: An athletics safety bill  makes it  through the Kentucky legislature and goes to the governor. It requires coaches to get more extensive emergency medical training. That is put back into the bill after legislators have second thoughts about what Brooks said. It’s been a long time since anything a University of Kentucky football coach said was taken seriously.

And now you may consider yourself up-to-date.

The deposition of David Jason Stinson

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The Louisville Courier-Journal has gotten the video of the deposition of David Jason Stinson, who has three names because I can’t figure out which one he goes by. Stinson has pleaded not guilty to reckless homicide in the death of Max Gilpin, a 15-year-old who collapsed in the heat during one of Stinson’s Pleasure Ridge Park High football practices last August. He’s also among those Gilpin’s parents are suing in a separate civil case, which is the subject of the video deposition.

If you haven’t clicked on the link yet, I’ll save you the (lack of) drama: Stinson’s lawyer says he can’t answer any questions because of the criminal case. Most depositions last longer than a Marmoset song.

Much better than the David Jason Stinson Experience.

Meanwhile, a Kentucky legislator has introduced a bill that would require ice pools on hand during high school practices and games when the heat index of over 94 degrees, according to the C-J. The legislator acknowledges its chances of passing are slim, not so much because the Kentucky High School Athletic Association already has standards how to handle the heat, but because there is only three weeks left in the legislative session.

Updates on Micah Grimes and Jason Stinson

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Or Micahee Grimes and Jasonee Stinson, to keep up with my Nancy Grace-like obsession.

In descending order:

— Jason Stinson pleaded not guilty to reckless homicide charges at a Louisville court today. He was released without bond. No shock, at least not to me, Stinson’s lawyers say they will explore Max Gilpin’s medical history, though they did not say anything about his parents’ confirmation that he had taken creatine and was taking Adderall. Max Gilpin’s parents, already in a lot of pain, are going to go through even more when they see attorneys and expert witnesses argue that what killed him was not merely running in the heat, but dehydration and other side effects from his medications related to intense exercise. It’s going to get ugly, but then again, it always does.

— I sent an email to Covenant School girls basketball coach, er, ex-coach, Micah Grimes Sunday night to see if he wanted to do an interview about his team’s infamous 100-zero game over the now world-famous Dallas Academy. I got a response from him tonight:

Hi Bob, I’m going to decline an interview for now. I really appreciate your willingness to show my side of the story, but this whole thing is a little bit overwhelming right now, and I would like to let things die down. Thanks again.

Sincerely,
Micah

No surprise, given he’s generally turned everyone else down for an interview.

The death of Max Gilpin: was it a crime?

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For all his troubles, shit-canned Covenant School coach Micah Grimes of 100-zip fame at least can feel good he’s not Jason David Stinson.

As I mentioned here a few days ago, Stinson, the head football coach at Pleasure Ridge Park High School in Louisville, Ky., was indicted Jan. 22 on reckless homicide charges after one of his players, 15-year-old Max Gilpin, collapsed and died during practice. Though no autopsy was performed, Gilpin was deemed to have died of heat stroke. His temperature reached 107 degrees on a day with a 94-degree heat index. Stinson is believed to be the first coach indicted based on the death of one of his players during practice or a game.

player-thumbBefore I do a bloodless lawyer-type analysis of what’s going on — which has to be done considering Gilpin’s parents have sued and because of the criminal case — I’ll state the obvious: this is a horrible tragedy for everyone involved. Even as a parent, I can only imagine the devastation, heartache and hurt Max Gilpin’s parents must feel. Even as a youth coach, I can only imagine the guilt — not the criminal kind — and regret Stinson must feel. Not to mention how Gilpin’s teammates and friends, especially those who saw him collapse Aug. 20 only to die three days later, must feel.

However, because the legal system is involved, because the supporters of Gilpin and Stinson, as well as Gilpin’s family and Stinson himself, are being very public about their version of events, and because a conviction of Stinson could have profound effects (good and bad) on how youth coaches conduct their business, a bloodless lawyer-type analysis is what is going to happen.

(By the way, I don’t want to be like Nancy Grace here, going on and on about Caylee Anthony and Natalee Holloway and any other white woman with two e’s at the end of her first name, screaming at the camera and at her guests. I’m going back and forth between Dallas Academy and the Kentucky death because those are the biggest youth sports stories going at the moment. Plus, I’m not going to yell at anybody. At least, not until I get my webcam and start v-logging.)

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This is why I haven’t posted my picture yet.

In Sunday’s Louisville Courier-Journal, Gilpin’s parents told their side of the story. Gilpin’s father, Jeff, said he arrived at the end of practice to see players running, and was told the coach was upset because they hadn’t practiced hard enough, and had not come back soon enough from a water break. He said it was 18 to 25 minutes before a coach suggested calling 911. He didn’t think of blaming the coaches initially, but he and his ex-wife, Michele Crockett (Max’s mother) changed their minds.

Gilpin said he wanted to support the coaches, some of whom “were the fathers of Max’s best friends.” But in the months since, he has felt a growing need to find out why Max died. After the Jefferson County grand jury’s decision to indict Stinson, Gilpin “felt betrayed by the coach, and I felt sad for Max.”

“If they found enough criminal evidence to prosecute him, I want him to be prosecuted,” Gilpin said.

Crockett said the indictment “was like someone was finally listening” to her desire to pursue the truth.

“This is not something that I pushed or conjured up,” she said. “I just want to know what happened.”

Gilpin and Crockett also say they are frustrated that the school district’s investigation hasn’t been completed.

“I don’t understand the holdup — it’s been five months,” Crockett said.

The district’s investigation is continuing, spokeswoman Lauren Roberts said Friday. Superintendent Sheldon Berman couldn’t be reached for comment.

Jeff Gilpin also addressed rumors about medications Max was taking. Yes, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Max was taking creatine, a muscle builder, but stopped one month before practice. And Max was taking Adderall, commonly prescribed for ADHD. The story doesn’t say he was diagnosed with it, but Jeff Gilpin said Max’s Adderall prescription was noted on his school physical forms.

Why does it matter what Max would have been taking? Because one side effect of creatine AND Adderall is dehydration. I’m sure Stinson’s lawyers will be pouncing on that to explain why Max, and only Max, suffered severely at that day’s practice. (Another player collapsed in the heat, but recovered quickly. No other team members reported suffering any heat-related medical problems.)

It seems like any criminal case will rest on whether Stinson denied water in violation of Kentucky High School Athletic Association rules governing water breaks during extreme heat. (The Louisville school district says he didn’t.) It also could rest on whether Stinson knew about Max Gilpin’s supplement and medication history, and failed to heed warnings that perhaps he needed extra water. After all, Stinson is hardly the first coach to call for running, even extra running, on a hot day. Particularly in preseason practice, the workouts are as much about conditioning as they are learning how to play football. You have to know as a coach and teammate how much activity a player can stand.

So I highly doubt Stinson will get convicted.

However, I don’t let him off the hook. When it’s a 94-degree heat index, common sense says players under pounds of pads, or even players who aren’t, need extra water breaks. Also, punishing players for not practicing hard enough in that weather is a huge injury risk. I’m sure Stinson, a former high school and college football player, got put through that wringer numerous times, but that doesn’t mean it was right, nor that it is even effective. I’m not moved by Stinson and his coaches’ reported statement that they were going to make the players run until some quit the team — that’s the kind of coach bloviation that’s endemic to preseason workouts. However, I am moved by the idea that Stinson might have been ignorant that there’s a fine line between pushing your team to its limits and pushing them for the sake of being an asshole.

Speaking of assholery, while I understand Stinson has supporters of his own, the mantra that he is a “man of God” makes me want to run laps in the heat until I vomit.

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God wants you to keep coaching. (Photo illustration appears on a Facebook group supporting Stinson.)

If you look at the video that is posted with this Courier-Journal story on a rally outside Stinson’s home, you’ll see how uncomfortably close the cult of the coach rubs up against the Christian faith. Stinson, who did not organize the rally, reads a verse of scripture. A supporter has a sign saying “Trust the Lord.” Stinson makes a point of saying no matter what happens, “God is good.”

Um, Coach Stinson, as far as I know, God’s name is not on the indictment sheet, so His is not the goodness on trial here.