13 Investigates


Mom says youth football coach went too far with disciplinary drill

Should kids be tougher or did coach go too far?
Posted at 10:45 PM, Jan 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-21 16:56:34-05

Teresa Wright-Gill knows football teaches toughness, discipline, brotherhood and life lessons.

Her older son played, and until recently, so did her younger one.

What she saw happening to her 13-year-old son, Darius, she felt simply went too far, so she recorded it on her cell phone.

"I just thought, okay, he's a pretty tough kind of coach kind of thing," said Wright-Gill. "I didn't have a problem with it at first until it became, like abusive, to me. For me as a parent it was really hard for me to stand here and record all of that, but I knew that I had to."

In one practice last Fall, Darius describes what he was told to do by Coach Adam Slaza of the Las Vegas Aces football club.

"He shouted from the field for me to lay on my belly, put my hands behind my back, spread my feet out and crawl all the way to the fence."

For nearly 20 minutes, Teresa's cell phone video shows Darius crawling alone, except when a coach comes over to reposition his hands behind his back and move his legs apart before walking away again.

"You see him try to sit up and struggle because he was telling me he couldn't breathe!"

Teresa showed the video to National Youth Sports Nevada.

"It like broke my heart! Like why would you do my child like this?!"  

In an email response, the league's director of operations wrote, "I agree this is incredibly serious... From what we have seen on the video, we will be dismissing Coach Slaza from coaching after the season..."

Adam Slaza sat down with us to explain.

"I learned that that drill is frowned upon by the league and I can see why some parents might have an issue with it and I'm no longer using that drill."

He claims the whole team had to do it, but everyone else finished before Darius did, but Teresa disputes that, saying she watched the whole practice and no one else did the drill.

"It wasn't to harm anyone or hurt anyone. It was solely as a disciplinary thing," Slaza explained. When you get to the real world, there's consequences for your actions."

Slaza himself knows that all too well. He's a felon. Convicted in California in 2003 for assault with a deadly weapon using force likely to produce great bodily injury.

"I'm not proud of it, but it is something that you learn from and I would say judge me on who I am today. Judge me on what I do now."  

The felony conviction didn't prevent him from becoming a youth coach because NYS' background check only goes back 10 years.  

Club president Jason Stemme has past convictions too.

"Our goal out there is to make sure these kids don't go down the path that we went down," Stemme explained. He sat in for support during our interview with Adam Slaza.

As for the drill that got Coach Slaza suspended?

"Do you feel that this went too far?" Darcy Spears asked

"It went too far as far as me sitting here with you today, yes," he answered.

"But not on the field that day?"

"No, ma'm."

The league has told us that a four-part punishment was levied.  

They say Adam Slaza is not eligible to coach until fully cleared.

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