Coach Leonard says incident serves as ‘learning experience’ for team
A football player was ejected from a freshman-level Gold Squad game against Hanover College for a fight—a rare event for the team.
The fight between a Hanover player and freshman wide receiver Paul Minor at the Sept. 18 game occurred after a play was complete. Referees subsequently ejected both players.
“Paul was blocking the defender when the defender went a little too far, got mad, threw off Paul’s helmet and threw the first punch,” freshman linebacker Joey Bejin said.
Head Coach Mike Leonard said he can count on one or two fingers how many times he’s seen anything of the sort happen in his 15 years of coaching at Franklin College.
“This is something we haven’t had much of an issue with, and sometimes these things do happen,” he said. “But we just cannot tolerate it.”
While he suffered consequences, Minor said he learned a lesson from the incident and through Leonard’s coaching.
“I was very frustrated, and it just caught me off guard,” Minor said. “I know to just walk away next time.”
Franklin College follows the NCAA policy when fighting in a game occurs. The player’s discipline is determined by the head coach, Leonard, and then approved by the school’s athletic director, Kerry Prather.
Leonard decided Minor’s punishment would be conditioning regimes for an entire practice. Minor also had to sit out the game against Manchester University Sept. 30.
Leonard said seeing Minor engage in a fight was unexpected.
“He is one of the nicest, most respectful people that I have ever coached,” he said. “I was shocked to see what was transpiring.”
Minor was originally recruited to the college as a basketball player.
“When I told the basketball coaches the story, their jaws dropped,” he said. “They couldn’t believe it.”
Minor’s teammates said the incident doesn’t just have a negative impact on Minor, but the entire team.
“I felt frustrated that my teammate let the opponent get into his head,” senior linebacker Logan Hale said. “I also felt sad my friend was not able to show his skills in the game. If I had known what the opposing player was saying, I would have tried to talk my friend down.”
Leonard said that it serves as a learning experience for everyone.
“He paid his punishment to the team, and it has been addressed, and hopefully everybody will chalk it up to be a learning experience that we just cannot have that,” Leonard said. “We are an education. I am an educator. We teach from these things. You learn from these things.”