High School Football Team's Activities Temporarily Suspended After Injuries at Practice

The school district says students were injured by conditions on the high school's turf field

After days of limbo, the Framingham Flyers were back at practice in Massachusetts on Monday afternoon, the team's head coach ready to move forward while drawing lessons from the events of the past week.

"We all try and learn from it and what can we do better," said head Coach Gary Doherty.

According to Doherty, a freshman developed blisters during a drill last Thursday. Soon after, another player reported the same issue. When a coach ran over and said more players were also developing blisters, Doherty said he stopped the drill.

The team was practicing on the districts artificial turf field located behind the high school.

"We just had no idea, never seen it in 26 years of coaching," Doherty said.
It wasn't like we were doing something special that put the kids at risk, that wasn't it at all."

Soon after, the district launched an investigation and announced it was putting the coaches on paid administrative leave.

Doherty says he's led the "bear claw" drill countless times, and blamed Thursdays heat for any issues.

"It had to be, it had to be," he said. "It wasn't the hottest day we practiced, it wasn't the only time we have done this drill, it is a universal drill for youth football, middle school, high school."

"I hear about stories like this all the time during the summer," said Guive Mirfendereski, who has been studying turf issues for more than a dozen years.

Last Thursday, temperatures averaged around 87 degrees in Framingham. At that temperature, Mirfendereski estimates the field would have been much hotter.

"If you had an 87-degree weather, chances are this field was around 140 degrees hot, as a surface temperature," he said.

Late Monday afternoon, the district released a statement clearing the team and coaches.

"The coaches will return to practice today," the district said. "Interim Athletic Director Paul Spear will work with coaches to identify drills and activities that are appropriate for the condition of the turf field."

"It is standard operating procedure of this district to review any incident that results in student injuries," the district added. "Our first priority, as always, is to do our best to ensure the safety of students in our care."

Coach Doherty said there were no hard feelings.

"We are a family here at Framingham High School, we are going to learn from it, put it behind us, and use anything we can to be a better football team," Doherty said.

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