Posted: 5:30 pm Tuesday, October 20th, 2009
By Jason Lieser
UPDATED: Tues., Oct. 20, 9:21 p.m.
In his first public comments since his forced resignation and subsequent reinstatement, Benjamin football coach Ron Ream said the past week has been “a roller coaster.”
The Benjamin Board of Trustees met Monday and overturned last week’s decision to call for his resignation. He was forced to step down because of an incident at a practice. Ream rejoined the football team toward the end of Tuesday’s practice, ending a tumultuous six-day stretch that threatened to finish his 30-year stay on the Buccaneers’ sideline.
“I don’t feel like I ever left,” Ream said. “It wasn’t the best weekend of my life, but I felt like I was still a part of this school.
“The overwhelming support and love of the people that stood up for me is what stands out in my mind the most over this whole ordeal.”
He walked quietly onto the practice field with roughly 30 minutes remaining and was back in the middle of the action by the end of it, yelling and joking as his players ran sprints. The Buccaneers (4-2) host Fort Lauderdale-Calvary Christian in their homecoming game Friday.
“It was great to have him back and get the team morale back up,” said senior running back Ben Dexter, a team captain. “Every time Coach Ream is on the field he gives us a boost.”
The board asked Ream to step down Thursday in the wake of two physical incidents between a player and coaches.
Ream said he took hold of the player by his jersey with both hands and pulled him upright in a disciplinary manner during a practice Sept. 30. Ream was reprimanded for his action shortly after and thought the issue was resolved.
It resurfaced, however, after the same player punched a volunteer assistant coach in the face during Benjamin’s game against King’s Academy on Oct. 9. Ream said he did not see the altercation and was not involved in it. The assistant stepped down and the player is on indefinite suspension from the team.
Ream said the past week has given him time to reevaluate some of his coaching methods and he said he will be more careful in his future physical interactions with players.
“In the culture of football that might be acceptable, but in the outside eyes of lawyers and judges and people that don’t understand football … they wouldn’t understand that,” he said of grabbing the player’s jersey in practice. “It became a little murky there as to what was legal and what wasn’t.
“I have certainly learned my coaching methods have got to get away from the old-school Coach Ream. There is a place for some hands-on, but not to discipline the kid in those ways — hands-on in teaching and instructing, but not in disciplining.”
The board planned to hold a meeting Tuesday to discuss Ream’s status, but called an emergency session Monday and reinstated him. Head of School Robert Goldberg said new facts had emerged since Ream’s resignation and some trustees felt Ream had been judged too harshly. The school also was flooded with support for Ream from parents, former players and alumni.
Ream said he had 232 e-mails Tuesday and spent most of the weekend going through messages left on his home answering machine. He likened the experience to getting a preview of his obituary.
“To know that you have been part of that many lives and touched that many people — basically all saying the same thing about you — was pretty, pretty special,” Ream said. “I feel very lucky to have friends and people like that.”
Ream believed the school asked him to resign in order to protect its and his interests and said he appreciated the internal support as much as the community’s. There is no grudge between him and the administration, he said.
Ream did not attend Friday’s 58-23 win at Pope John Paul II, but was in his office Saturday at 6 a.m. to watch the film.
“I was so proud of them for what they did,” he said.
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