JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A Nettleton Junior High football player found himself burned in practice Wednesday after doing a drill on the surface of a hot outdoor track. His parent, who was outraged in the beginning is now praising the school district for their quick actions to solve the problem.
"He came home with open wounds and I was like 'where did these come from?' He was not going to even say anything," said the parent who asked to remain anonymous for the safety of her son's identity.
She said it all took place Wednesday during practice.
"He told me some kids got in trouble and the entire team had to do bear crawls and crab walks but it was too hot," said the parent. "He didn't realize his hands were that hurt until he did the forward crawl and they started to sting. He said when he held his hand up, he saw the skin from the blister was hanging."
She later took to Facebook with her concerns. It was an action that Nettleton School District Superintendent James Dunivan said he completely understands.
"I cannot blame anyone for their reaction to that," said Dunivan. "Especially a parent who sends their child to school and they come home injured. I cannot blame any concerned parent who saw that for reacting anyway other than what they did. When I first saw it, it was just something that you do not want to occur."
She said once the athletic director learned of the severity of her son's wounds, he reached out to her immediately.
"You know, I was angry because I wanted to know how he came home with this," she said. "I wanted a phone call or something but later I found out the coaches were not aware of his injuries. Once they saw the photo they started calling and asking if he was okay and wanted to do everything to help him."
She wasn't the only parent feeling the burn of the drill. Dunivan said three parents total reached out to them. He said without a doubt, taking full responsibility for this situation was a priority.
"We met with the parents and agreed there are different procedures that need and will be used in the future," said Dunivan. "These exercising drills they did are conditioning exercises we have always done but it was where they were doing it that caused the problem. It was too hot.
That day there was a high of 93 degrees Fahrenheit.
"It was in the 90s so on that track, it had to be at least that hot," said Dunivan. "So, we are definitely going to find another place to do those exercises. I've already talked to the coaches and they have made it clear that they will be careful about where they do exercises and be more mindful of temps."
Dunivan said he is proud of the coach responsible for the exercises for owning up to his mistake.
"He took full responsibility for it all," said Dunivan. "He stood up and voluntarily removed himself from the games and practices Thursday and Friday. He has not been suspended and no one has been reprimanded but again this is just a lesson for all of us to be more careful about the safety of our kids."
Dunivan said the parents affected by this incident are more than satisfied with that result.
"I can tell he genuinely was apologetic for his actions," said the parent. "He was so sincere and remorseful. With all of this social media and posts going around asking me to sue and do this and that is crazy. The fact that they took responsibility in the beginning and were so concerned just wanting to be there for my son was enough."
She said the school district has been amazing at being 100% supportive.
"Nobody once blamed him for his injuries," said the parent. "They never once said he did the exercises wrong or that it was his fault. It was always a 'I am so sorry.'"
She said they even advised her to get medical help.
"We went to the doctor and got him treated," said the parent. "He is healing fast so hopefully he will be ready to play in Tuesday's game. My son loves his coaches and his district and has accepted all of their apologies. If anything now, we all just want to move forward."
"During our meeting with the parents, we broke down what happened, what needs to happen so that this doesn't happen again, and how to move forward in the future," said Dunivan. "Indeed it was the wrong exercise in the wrong place but we have definitely learned to not push athletes beyond safety limits."
Now the parent wants to raise awareness of the players practicing in hot temps so that this isolated incident doesn't happen to anyone again.
"This has woken everyone to the severity of the heat conditions during practices," said the parent. "I don't think they took into account how hot it was on the surface that they were doing those drills on. People need to all take the heat into account."
Though she is raising awareness, she said she definitely sees the positive side of this situation.
"I think this will be a healthy thing for everyone involved," she said. "We are all human and everyone understands that. The Nettleton School District has been great to my son and I and the other parents. I cannot ask for a better district. I know this is something that will not happen again."
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