As frightened members of the Tooele High School girls' softball team watched - less than a week before they were to play for the state championship - a father scuffled with the team's coach, prosecutors say.
Steven D. Miner, Tooele, has been charged with three counts of assault and one of criminal trespass in connection with the incident.Miner is charged with assaulting coach Louis Matekel, assistant coach Susan Rydalch and a student, says a complaint signed by the Tooele City prosecutor, John Mack Dow. Trial on the four Class B misdemeanors is to be held before Circuit Court Judge Edward Watson, who has not yet set a date.
Michael G. Jacobsen, superintendent of the Tooele County School District, pieced together this story for the Deseret News:
The incident happened at the end of a before-school practice game on May 23, in the midst of the girls' state 3A softball championships. Two teams remained undefeated, Springville and Tooele's Lady Buffaloes.
"Apparently the assistant coach and one of the players who was a starter had some words about substitution," Jacobsen said. The girl left the game, and shortly afterward a man showed up at school.
"Practice had finished and the coaches got all the girls together," the superintendent said. "Coach Matekel was in the process of talking to the girls . . .
"As he was talking to the girls, the man came up from behind him and apparently knocked him down. Matekel is about 60 years old."
Others tried to assist the coach, Jacobsen said, but were pushed away.
"I think it just startled us more than anything," said Bridget Allie, a junior who is on the team who witnessed the incident. "It just scared us all a little."
She estimates it was all over in a minute or less. "He like pushed him down. I don't really remember if he got jumped on," she said.
According to Jacobsen, the incident threw a sour note into what had been an amazing softball season for the Lady Buffs.
"This was a very positive time for Tooele, not just the high school, but the city really rallied around the team, when they were in the state tournament." Businesses sported signs like, GO LADY BUFFS, and residents were upbeat.
"This really put a damper on it," he said.
Still, the girls overcame their shock and played superbly in the championship game. "We just put it all behind us," teammate Bridget Allie said.
As the Deseret News reported last week, "Tooele and Springville played leapfrog for two and a half hours before the Buffaloes claimed a thrilling 16-15 win to take the 3A title."