The football coach who made a stand

The sports world is full of coaches who’ll look the other way when his/her young players are doing things they ought not do. Better to just ignore it and keep winning.

Not in Roosevelt, Utah.

Matt Labrum, a high school football coach, is getting deserved attention this week for what he did when he found out some of his players were bullying other students online, and other players were ignoring their academics.

“It just felt like everything was going in a direction that we didn’t want our young men going,” Labrum told KSL -TV. “We felt like we needed to make a stand.”

So he kicked the players off his team. Not some of them. All of them.

“We were looking at football as a right, rather than a privilege,” Labrum said.

“We were pretty open with (our team) about what we’d heard,” he said. “We don’t want that represented in our program. … Whoever it is (bullying another student), we want to help get them back on the right path.”

The next day, he told the players they’d have to earn their way back on the team if they want to have a homecoming game this week.

And that’s not even the best part of the story. The best part of the story is the parents backed the coach:

Bruce Guymon, director of student services for the Duchesne County School District, said he hasn’t received a single parent complaint about the coaching staff’s decision to suspend the entire team. Union High Principal Rick Nielsen and the school’s athletic director, Mike Ross, both said the response from parents, in fact, has been wholly positive.

“It is not a punishment,” Rook said. “I look at it as an opportunity to do some good in the community and it’s a good way to learn a life lesson.”

Ed Winn, whose son Landen is a senior on the team, said he agreed.

“The coach is just, number one, looking out for the team,” Winn said. “We think building the team, building good character will make good men out of them.”

Labrum said he met Monday with the student who had been bullied and offered an apology on behalf his team.

“I told him I hope he can forgive us some day,” the coach said, noting that all of his players are making solid progress toward earning the privilege of wearing the black and gold again.

The coach says the team is practicing this week, but not on football. They’re performing community service.

“We’re still practicing, but we’re practicing on some different skills,” Labrum said.

Yesterday afternoon the kids found out there will be a game. But not all of the original players made it back on the squad.

“It doesn’t mean they’re off the team,” the coach told the Deseret News. “It means they won’t be playing this week. Most of them had done 85 or 90 percent of what they needed to.”