Cascade track team returns to practice following coaches’ suspension

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Emotions ran high during Cascade High School’s varsity track practice Friday afternoon. Teammates returned to the track a day after their four coaches were suspended, accused of harsh punishment.

Those who missed practice last week were told to do the bear crawl – a common ritual where athletes would crawl on their hands and feet, their knees never touching the ground.

Some parents said it went too far after a handful of students were left with blisters and first and second-degree burns on their hands.

“I send my kid to school to be protected and they did this,” said Tammy Rulfs, whose daughter came home with blisters. “It’s not right.”

The track team was supposed to have a friendly meet with several other schools Friday.  They were told it was canceled the night before.

“Our mood is kind of sad but anxious at the same time,” said Daljot Bajwa, a senior on the track team. “We’re still a little sad but we have to move on. Let bygones be bygones.”

Despite some still bandaged, their hands a little black, everyone showed up for practice ready to go.

“It’s quite unfortunate and my heart goes out to them,” said Bryan Mcconnell, a senior on the track team. “They’re all good teachers. They’re very well-liked. I think they definitely deserve to not end their career on this kind of note.”

Teammates voiced their opinions to the high school’s athletic director and vice principal.

One former student wrote a letter in support of one of the coaches saying: “I have no doubt that she cares for her present-day students sand athletes just as much as she cared for me and my teammates when we walked the halls of Cascade High School. No doubt at all.”

“We don’t want them gone because they know they didn’t mean anything by it,” said Miranda Chastain, a senior on the track team. “They weren’t forcing anything on us. We just want the situation to end.”

The school district has asked the four coaches to resign from their coaching positions but they all are also teachers at the school.

The school board will meet Monday to decide on the fate of the coaches. They are also expected to hear more from the Department of Child Services on their investigation.