A Durham, Connecticut, youth football coach has been terminated after he punished a student for reportedly bullying one of his teammates.
Todd Kennedy, the former head coach of Durham Middlefield Football team, says he wanted to send a message to other kids that bullying will not be tolerated.
WTNH reports the team is made up of kids in grades 4 through 6 and two of Kennedy’s sons were on the team.
After discussing the incident with the entire team, he lectured the alleged bully in front of the children last weekend.
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The reported bully denied it, but the football coach had him run a few laps around the field as punishment. However, Kennedy later commended the boy for running without complaining.
But the league’s board was not pleased with the way Kennedy handled the incident.
“[One of the board members] said why did you feel that you were qualified to handle this bullying incident? I’m like because I’m a father,” said Kennedy.
The next morning, Kennedy was suspended and then unanimously fired by the board on Oct. 3, according to the New York Daily News. What’s more, he is prohibited from volunteering as the team’s coach.
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The former coach says he was never trained on how to handle bullying in the league and responded to the situation to the best of his abilities. Kennedy feels as if he’s being treated unfairly because of it.
“What I’m going to miss the most is seeing what we would have done this year, seeing if we would have gotten to the championship game,” said Kennedy.
“You start questioning yourself, absolutely,” he added to WTNH.
Kennedy says if one of his own kids was bullying another, he’d have no qualms if the coach handled it the way he did. He also regrets that he was not able to explicate the situation to his team.
“They never heard from me, so now you’ve got these children that I’ve been coaching since August and all of a sudden their coach just disappears,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy has pulled his two sons off the team, as have other parents who support the former football coach.
Shannon Riso’s son is no longer on the team because she disagrees with the board’s decision to fire Kennedy.
“Bullying is okay -- that’s the message I got,” said Riso. “That’s why my son is not going to play for them. I want him to be around better role models than that.”