CLAYTON — Cascade High School girls’ head track coach Rosie Fakes, boys’ head track coach Nicholas Puckett, and assistant track coaches Josh Hagenow and Sean Adams have all tendered resignations from their coaching positions after Wednesday night’s track practice where student-athletes were made to bear crawl around the track as punishment for missing practice, leaving them with blisters and open sores on their hands.
The incident drew swift action from the Mill Creek Community School Corporation, leading to the resignations.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jill Jay issued this statement Thursday:
“Last night (Wednesday) we became aware of an incident involving the boys’ and girls’ high school track team and inappropriate conduct by the team coaches. We immediately began an investigation and interviewed those involved. In addition, our office contacted the Indiana Department of Child Services. We sincerely apologize to the parents and assure them we do not condone, nor will we tolerate, this type of behavior from our school employees. We have requested that all four coaches resign from their coaching positions and they have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.”
Cascade High School held a parent and athlete meeting at 4 p.m. Thursday to discuss the controversy.
The school cancelled its scheduled Cascade Relays Friday night and instead held practice led by Athletic Director Andy Elkins.
Elkins said by text that former boys’ head track coach Steve Harris and Kale Blickenstaff will take over coaching duties on Monday.
Blickenstaff teaches eighth-grade history at the middle school and Harris has been the boys’ and girls’ cross country coach for four years and had been the boys’ track coach since 2004, until this season.
Postings on social media helped spark this investigation and the comments range from disbelief and indignation to that of a calmer tone.
After one mother posted photos of her son’s blistered and blackened hands on Facebook, nearly 100 comments followed.
Responses ranged from sympathetic, “my heart breaks” and “I am so sorry this happened” to those calling for the responsible coaches’ jobs. “I hope enough parents raise heck and the coach gets fired,” one poster wrote.
Several people posted that what was done to the students was abusive and some suggested child protective services needed to be called.
However, some outside the community have been less supportive and offered a different view.
One Twitter user posted “Aren’t blisters a normal part of bear crawls? Perhaps the school district should invest in gloves,” and “So Cascade track coaches are under investigation after forcing players to bear crawl as punishment. Sounds like every line practice.”
That was the sentiment of several Cascade boys’ and girls’ track team members as they were interviewed by WISH-TV. One athlete compared the blisters to the type of abrasions suffered in weight lifting.
Jay said Friday that the investigation is ongoing.