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Local coaches react to Rutgers coach Mike Rice scandal

6:46 PM, Apr 3, 2013   |    comments
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By Tracy Clemons

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - The firing of Rutgers University head basketball Mike Rice after video surfaced of him throwing basketballs at players and pushing them during practice had us asking questions about coaching boundaries.

We talked to two former coaches, a father of an athlete, and a high school baseball player. They all say what Mike Rice did crossed the line, and that anyone defending him by saying "hey it's sports, that's what coaches do" is just plain wrong.

"After seeing him throw the basketballs and really when he was pushing the kids around, that was a bit much," Mike Elliot of Collinsville said.

"I was so disappointed that for some reason or other, this coach believes this is the way to motivate young men," said Bill Bommarito.

Bommarito is a former high school football and baseball coach. Today, he trains coaches through is company Coaching Coaches.

"In the world of sports, we've allowed this to happen. And once you let the horses out, they're out. It's hard to bring them back in," he said.

He believes coaches who hurl balls and slurs at players like Mike Rice may have been coached that way.

"What took place 20, 30, and 40 years ago...those days are over. We've got to find new ways to motivate people and that takes some work," he said.

"True leaders don't have to go into moments of explosion. True leaders do it through communication and example and caring and compassion," Brett Swip said. "True leaders do it in ways that build up confidence in that athlete and that athlete wants to do what's best for that leader."

Swip coached college softball and now trains coaches and works with athletes at Turn Two in Collinsville.

"Is there ever a time to raise your children that way? No. And coaches are parental figures outside of the home for athletes," said Swip.

O'Fallon Township High School junior Tyler Scimio says there's a line coaches shouldn't cross "Any physical contact that would cause a kid to be frightened like sudden movements, grabbing the shirts, pushing, shoving, anything like that."

He and Mike Elliot say yelling is fine, but not name calling.

"If you're just calling them names the whole time, it's worse than anything," Scimio said.

"I don't have any problem with yelling at anybody," added Elliot. "You've got to pick your words though. You can't be making slurs like he did."

Although the incident that sparked this story happened at the college level, coaches at any level can get unruly.

Brett Swip encourages parents to make sure they are in practices, at games, and on the same page with the coaches.


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