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New League Boss Calls Coach Actions an Aberration

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – The new president of the New Canaan Youth Football League believes the burning of trophies by an eighth-grade team was an aberration and not reflective of a widespread issue of poor behavior by league coaches.

“We have a mission for the league overall to instill good sportsmanship and safety while trying to teach football,’’ said Ted Dumbauld, who took over as the league president. “Unfortunately, we had a couple of good coaches who made a bad decision at one point in their long football careers. They’ve been removed from the coaching ranks and our board and won’t have any more interaction with the kids.”

New Canaan coaches Rod Fox, David Jahns and Jay Pirrone resigned after allegations in an anonymous letter from a parent told of the trophy burning. The letter also indicated the coaches made the players practice in unsafe conditions, such as lightning storms, and required them to practice more than the league maximum of six hours per week. Dumbauld, who had been the president of the Fairfield County Football League until his term expired this month, is confident the safety of children was not jeopardized.

“We have a good understanding of what happened,’’ Dumbauld said. “The town is installing lightning detectors, which will take the decision-making away from the coaches. An alarm will sound and practice will end, and the kids will be taken to safety. I don’t think there was a systematic attempt to violate the rule of practices. On occasion, practices started early or ended late. That’s where we can do a better job of educating the parents. They are the best policemen. In any organization, there is room for improvement.”

The league contacted parents to get their input on the overall experience in the league, Dumbauld said. Except in one or two cases, feedback was generally favorable. ”We solicited comments and gave everyone a chance to voice their concerns,’’ he said. “I think what is said in the letter is not indicative of the general perception of what’s going on in our town.”

The league is taking steps to ensure all the towns in the league are following the rules. “We want to make sure they all get the message,’’ Dumbauld said. “Sportsmanship and safety are paramount in our league.”

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