Sep 27, 2013 09:07 AM EDT
High School Football Coach Suspends Program to Tackle Off-Filed Misbehaviour
Union High head football coach Matt Labrum, 41, surprised the entire Duchesne County town when he decided to suspend 41 varsity and junior varsity players last week for off-field bad behavior ranging from skipping classes, poor grades to cyber bullying.
After the Sep.20 game, Labrum and his staff told the players that no football matches will be held until the players earned the right to play. When they announced the suspension, coaches allotted tasks to individual players to help them earn back their jerseys and a chance to play in Friday's homecoming game against Emery High.
"I think the most important thing is that we build character," Labrum told CBS news.
The students were required to be part of practice sessions, follow punctuality, solve their discipline problems, complete a community service project and memorize a quote about good character.
"We did some service as far as digging weeds and cleaning. On Tuesday we went to the senior center and played some games with them and listened to their stories," Labrum said.
After two full days of philanthropic activities, the coach allowed 32 players to return to the team.
One player said, "It's a lot of relief for sure, getting my jersey back. I love it."
"We have enough that we'll be playing all the games this week," Labrum told KSL, referring to the junior varsity game Thursday and varsity contest on Friday night. "It was mixed. It's hard. You have mixed emotions because some guys are so elated they have their jerseys back, but maybe the guy next to him wasn't getting his. It was very mixed. But I think the guys handled it well."
"It doesn't mean they're off the team," Labrum said. "It means they won't be playing this week. Most of them had done 85 or 90 percent of what they needed to."
Labrum received overwhelming support for the decision to suspend all the players except freshman recruits from playing football.
"It's wonderful to see so many people being so supportive of us," Labrum told KSL. "We're isolated out here. This is all new. We didn't want the media exposure to make us lose sight of why we were doing this."
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