The Stratford High School football coach is under scrutiny after some of his players were blistered and burned by the team’s scorching artificial turf field earlier this week.
Parents told NBC Connecticut head coach T.J. Cavaliere instructed the team to crawl across the AstroTurf at Stratford High School on their bare hands Monday, when temperatures climbed past 90 degrees. Sunny turf can get even hotter.
“It wasn’t just a hot field. These kids, their skin melted off their hands,” said Stratford Town Council candidate Sean Haubert.
Cavaliere wrote a letter to parents explaining that the exercise was in response to players’ behavioral issues at Friday’s scrimmage.
“Hindsight is 20/20 and I was not aware that the turf could cause blisters on the boys’ hands,” the coach wrote. “I apologize for what happened and have learned a valuable lesson.
Some, like Haubert, believe the incident warrants extra training and even suspension.
“These kids were getting hurt and they’re trained not to say something back to the coach, so I’ll say it,” he said.
The parents of many players, however, believe the coach’s apology is enough.
“He’s a compassionate man. He’s supportive. He makes this team a team,” said Theresa Jacksis-Bonazzo, who has two sons on the football team.
Cavaliere, who did not attend practice Wednesday afternoon, apologized on Twitter too. His account has since been made private.
Neither Cavaliere nor the Stratford superintendent have returned requests for comment.