Archive for Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tonganoxie High School football coach resigns in wake of suspension for incident with a player

August 31, 2011, 1:55 p.m. Updated August 31, 2011, 10:04 p.m.


Tonganoxie football coach Mark Elston has resigned in the wake of an incident with a player Monday night.

Tonganoxie football coach Mark Elston has resigned in the wake of an incident with a player Monday night.

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Mark Elston didn’t think his last day as Tonganoxie High football coach would come two days before the start of the season.

He deemed that necessary, though, after being suspended Tuesday from his coaching duties by school officials following events that took place between Elston and a player during Monday’s practice.

Wednesday afternoon, Elston submitted his resignation.

“I just did what was best for the kids,” Elston said of stepping down. “We’ve got to move forward on this, and there’s no point dragging it out… For their sake, for my sake, for the betterment of my family and those kids, let’s move on.”

The embattled former coach did not wish to divulge details of Monday’s altercation, such as which player he was reprimanding or what he said or did during the exchange. The Mirror later confirmed that the player Elston disciplined was sophomore linebacker Jordan Boudreaux.

What Elston did say, however, was that Boudreaux was being scolded because he had just “flat annihilated and blindsided” freshman quarterback Carl Hecht even though Hecht was wearing a green jersey, which signifies he’s not supposed to be touched.

Elston said his immediate reaction to get the situation solved was to go after Boudreaux verbally for making a hit that left Hecht lying injured on the ground.

“I’ve got to protect my players by whatever means necessary,” Elston said.

Boudreaux’s grandfather and guardian Jules Boudreaux told The Mirror he thought Elston responded in the correct manner. Jules described Jordan’s account of the situation: While removing defensive players from the pile on top of Hecht, Elston picked Jordan up — not to hurt him, but to discipline him verbally.

“There was some instruction being given to him in a loud manner, but that’s not a confrontation really,” Jules said. “It’s an emotional game for players and coaches.”

According to Jules, Elston didn’t use any “vile language” or physically abuse Jordan while yelling at him. Jordan told his grandfather he was not upset about the coach’s approach.

Said Elston: “As coach and a parent, I did what I thought was correct at the time of action — at that time for that individual.”

Elston, who was beginning his 12th year in Tonganoxie, said he had warned Boudreaux before about the hits he was delivering at practices.

“I love him to death, but I’ve been on him for three weeks now to stop it, and I reached my limit,” Elston said.

The coach said he was caught up in the moment, and he understands how others could disagree with his actions at that time.

“You try to do the right thing at all times in all situations,” he said. “The right thing for person A might not be the right thing for person B.”

According to Elston, a person at Dollar General, across U.S. Highway 24-40 from the THS practice field, saw the incident and reported it to the school. He described that as “getting a snapshot view” in 35 seconds of a three-week-long situation.

“What he saw, he saw. I’m not going to deny it,” Elston said.

Jules questioned why the exchange was reported to THS officials.

“Why somebody else got involved in it and reported it out of context, I have no idea,” he said.

Elston, in Jules’ opinion, wasn’t overstepping his boundary with Jordan. The player’s grandfather said he thought the reprimanding was appropriate for the actions that had transpired.

Jules said he was disappointed to learn of Elston’s resignation.

“I feel bad. And I feel bad for Mr. Elston, and I feel bad for Jordan, because some of the teammates think Jordan or someone form his family complained and were responsible for this,” Jules said.

“There are some people in town who would like to see Mr. Elston go, and I’m not one of them.”

Hecht’s mother, Beth, told The Mirror that Carl did not suffer a serious injury on the hit that led to the incident. She said after Monday’s practice her son was just dealing with the normal aches and pains of playing football.

Beth did not wish to comment on Elston’s actions, but did say she thought it was good that coaches are trying to teach high school players about the proper way to make hits.

A statement released by USD 464 Superintendent Randy Weseman on Wednesday afternoon announced the coach’s resignation.

“Mark has made significant contributions to our football program,” Weseman said in the statement. “We appreciate his service to our kids and the school district.”

THS defensive coordinator Matt Bond has been named interim head coach.

The Chieftains practiced Wednesday afternoon without Elston. Bond and assistants Brad Shelton and Scott Peavey ran practice.

Bond declined to comment on Elston’s resignation, as did the THS players.

Said senior linebacker Ryan Lynch: “None of us are gonna be in the mood to talk today.”

Tonganoxie’s season opens at 7 p.m. Friday at Bishop Ward, in Kansas City, Kan.

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated when Elston was suspended. He was suspended Tuesday evening.


Steve Jacob 6 years, 8 months ago

The million dollar question is did the coach hit the player? Cussing out a player, no big deal, but hitting a player in anger is a big no-no.

mom_of_three 6 years, 8 months ago

someone across the street reported it. So yes, its entirely possibly that it looked more serious than what it was. Unless the coach hit the player (grabbing the jersey to enforce the point is different which I hope it was). Someone could have been seriously injured if players do not listen to coaches.

jaywalker 6 years, 8 months ago

That may be the most disconnected, over-the-top, ridiculous response to any post I've ever seen. Get a grip, Py.

orbiter 6 years, 8 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

BlackVelvet 6 years, 8 months ago

I wonder if the person who reported this to the school is the same one who called 9-1-1 one day in Dillons because she saw a mother swat her (extremely) unruly child on the behind!

BlackVelvet 6 years, 8 months ago

I wonder if the person who reported this to the school is the same one who called 9-1-1 one day in Dillons because she saw a mother swat her (extremely) unruly child on the behind!

kujhawk 6 years, 8 months ago

best comment i've seen in a long time!

otto 6 years, 8 months ago

Is he a teacher too? or did he just resign as coach?

somedude20 6 years, 8 months ago

I am sure that in a few months whomever is coaching for the Raiders will be available

Mike Ford 6 years, 8 months ago

I once had a coach who looked the other way and left the locker room so that said bullies could do their business and all of them were twice my size.. I ended up walking through the school to the principals office where I stayed for my safety for the rest of the period. I walked through school without a hall pass...this was 1986 and said school is 10 miles west of Tongie on K 16. A whole nother culture and no rules...

rukidingme 6 years, 8 months ago

It's Tonganoxie, bet the coach was cussing and screaming at the player and the person at dollar geanral was ofended by the cussing.

dipweed 6 years, 8 months ago

"If you gave an order, that Santiago wasn't to be touched, and your orders are always followed, then why would Santiago be in danger?" He had on the green jersey for cryin' out loud...Santiago was not to be touched! When orders aren't followed people die. Are we clear?? Crystal!

Armored_One 6 years, 8 months ago

LMAO That is just happy... sucks you beat me to it, but still awesome... two thumbs up..

jaywalker 6 years, 8 months ago

We'd need to know what exactly transpired between the coach and the offending player to deem whether his resignation was necessary or justified. From what we have here though, it sounds like perception and PC-ness ruled the day, and that's incredibly sad. Would like to know how the player's parents feel about this all because there's a distinct possibility that their child will suffer a great deal more from the backlash in effect due to losing a popular coach rather than anything the coach did or said.

smartestguyintheroom 6 years, 8 months ago

Did the school consult the other coaches and players present before taking action? I'm surprised the coach resigned so quickly before allowing his supporters to vindicate his actions, whatever they actually were...he may have done this to spare the program on-going drama, but a showing of solidarity could have brought the team closer together. I will be watching this evolve with great curiousity...

Robert Holmes 6 years, 8 months ago

The kid acts like a total idiot and the coach pays the price. The bad thing is that the coach could have simply told the player who has refused to obey his rules by telling him to simply check in his gear and good luck at a new school next year. He's not worth losing your job over. Hope coach recovers and the player makes an apology for costing him his job and being a jerk.

Scott Morgan 6 years, 8 months ago

Coach we hear you, and wish you to think about this.

We are lucky to find competent people to coach like Elston. Big misconception regarding standing lines of good coaches waiting for a job.

Forget the pay, Elston is not doing it for the money. In the end the money never comes close to matching the hours spent. High school, jr. high is not the big time, the only comparison being, time spent.

I am so so glad decades ago I chose to walk away from coaching. I have no doubt my marriage now of almost 40 years would have failed. I did not marry one of those wives who shyly smile nervously when asked about not having a hubby around for half the year. Especially those with young families.

Did you know older P.E. teachers often do not coach anymore. They are not willing to void family, friends, and often teaching to compete.

Elston may wander around for a few weeks and discover there is a real world. More to do than wake up with football, then sleep a restless night with the team on his mind.

To this day I can not attend a high school game without dread for those who are so devoted they often have no idea of all else lost.

We the fans have created this system not only in football, but all sports. Time to limit practice time, and demand our public coaches spend less time on the field, and more time for family and teaching.

catblu 6 years, 8 months ago

It was under Elstons watchful eye, players were peed on and others were chocked until they passed out.. Wow heck of a guy. Thats how we teach sportmanship in Tonganoxie.. Parents have complained about him for years. ... Now that he has "quit" he blames the player. Elston tell everyone what the witness saw. Dont just tell half of the story.

catblu 6 years, 8 months ago

Sorry, My bad..... Choked as grabbed around the throat.

Scott Morgan 6 years, 8 months ago

Man o man, I had this crazy coach who would pick 2 or 3 nasty big seniors he called the dogs.

If you made a mistake in practice like jumping off sides, or missing an assignment he and other nasty coaches would blow whistles and “call on the dogs” to attack you. Man o man you had to defend and fight off the “dogs” using football rules. Nobody wanted the attention, less having to fight off 3 players at the same time. No pee on us, but was spit on a couple of times. We did learn to play while thinking.

Forty years later, all of us reflect on how proud we were to play under a Hall of Fame coach.
We now think about the practices, not the glory games, the words he spoke to us, mostly a roadmap to success many of us used in life. We still stay in contact this team of almost a half decade ago.

We also take pride in losing only 1 game in 3 years playing for this great man.

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