Just about everyone has seen the movie or TV show where the big bad teacher wants to bench the star quarterback because his grades are not up to snuff. That’s when the “hero,” his coach comes to his rescue and somehow gets his grades “fixed” and him back on the field. Or the coach is buying papers and helping his team cheat on tests. That isn’t Matt Labrum, football coach at Union High School in Utah.
Labrum was disturbed by reports he received about his players cutting class, receiving poor grades and cyber bullying another student. So, after last Friday’s game, he called a team meeting and told nearly everyone on the team to turn in their jerseys and equipment because they were all suspended until they met a set of criteria which he outlined in a letter distributed to them.
If they wanted to get back on the team, they were going to have to show up and be on time for all practices and they were to have no discipline problems and receive no failing grades. He also told them that they would have to perform some community service projects and memorize a quote about good character.
Coach Labrum had the full support of the school administration, his assistant coaches and most surprising, the parents of his players. On Monday and Tuesday practice was not what the team was accustomed to, they spent those practices performing community service projects, including digging weeds and visiting a Senior’s Center to play games with the seniors and listen to their stories. On Wednesday their practice was a study hall after which there was another team meeting at which time Labrum returned jerseys to those players who had earned them back and that was most of them.
This Friday they will play their homecoming game having hopefully learned a valuable lesson that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. One player told a television crew covering the story, “It’s a lot of relief for sure, getting my jersey back. I love it.”
Coach Labrum said of the week, “It’s a wonderful thing to see young men take on a challenge. I think a lot of lessons we’re learned this week, I think some will be learned later in life I think this is something that we’ll all remember.” The one thing we can be sure they have learned is that their coach is not going to go to bat for them when they decide to slack off on their classwork and he is not going to look the other way when they misbehave.
You can watch the CBS This Morning report below.