STRATFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — More than a dozen high school football players in Stratford, Connecticut were burned this week after crawling on hot Astroturf during practice.
As CBS2’s Lou Young reported, some say the coach should have known better.
Heat ripples off the artificial turf at Penders Field in Stratford, where the high school football coach was in hot water Wednesday for putting players in close contact with the simmering surface and burning their hands during practice.
A player who was sympathetic to the coach said 16 of his teammates required first aid Monday after the drill, designed to punish the team for poor behavior.
“No one had heat stroke or anything. It was just strictly cosmetic in the hands,” said Stratford High School football player Zach Smith. “We bandaged them just how you would bandage a cut or anything gelse.”
Even in the best of conditions, the exercise is unpleasant – involving crabbing across the surface with one’s hands on the hot turf, Young reported.
Most players managed the exercise without incident, but some developed burns and blisters on their palms.
A heat sensor check of the field showed the surface up near 130 degrees before noon – hot enough to burn if you don’t keep moving.
Some parents complained, while others jumped to the defense of the man they call “Coach Cav” – short for T.J. Cavaliere. One player’s father did not want his son to know he had been talking to CBS2’s Young.
“He’s a good teacher. He’s been here. He likes the kids,” the father said. “If he didn’t care about him, he wouldn’t have apologized.”
Cavaliere issued two apologies – one in person at the school Tuesday, the other online.
“I would like to apologize to all players for the conditioning today,” he wrote via Twitter within hours of the incident on Monday. “I was not aware the turf would cause that reaction to your hands.”
Some of the parents were quick to defend the coach.
“Coach Cav already admitted that he thought it was in poor judgment. He sent a letter home. He apologized to the boys. He would choose a different exercise in hindsight,” said Mary Sue Baricko, the mother of a player. “I believe in him.”
The afternoon practice CBS2 intended only showed upright exercise on the hit turf. The school district had no comment beyond saying it was all a personnel matter.
The artificial turf is fairly new to Stratford. This is the second season it has been in use.