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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)


A Jackson area travel ball coach was put in a chokehold and kicked while he was on the ground after a baseball game at the West Tennessee Healthcare Sportsplex on Sunday, witnesses say.

The game was forfeited after a rules violation. As the Jackson team was leaving the field, one of the parents from the other team, which is from Mississippi, waited and attacked him from behind.

"This whole team stayed put and they were yelling comments as the boys walked through and waited for the coach to come up last and jumped him," Dr. Jenna Britt, a witness, said. "One was apparently was the one who had him in a chokehold. That's the one that scared his wife so bad. ... And the wife of one of them was kicking his face and head while he was in the chokehold."

Two assistant coaches from Jackson ran in and helped separate the fight. Witnesses said there was no security at the Sportsplex and they did not help break up the fight.

They did not identify who the coach from the Jackson team is. The team's Facebook page lists Brent Holt as the manager.

The Jackson Police Department responded to the call and the investigation is still ongoing.

Witnesses say they had to call police on their own and officials from the Sportsplex did not make a phone call.

Their statements contradict the statement released by Sportsplex Director of Operations Ricky Yates on Monday to The Jackson Sun.

In the statement, Yates said parents, coaches and Sportsplex personnel helped break up the fight. He added the police were called as a precautionary measure.

"I did not see any Jackson Sportsplex officials step in to break up the fight," said Amanda Wood, another witness. "And when parents tried to get someone to call the cops, they were told they would have to do it themselves."

Wood added that Ron Barry, who is listed as the director of baseball and marketing on the Sportsplex's website, wanted to keep the situation under wraps.

"I didn't think that was appropriate," Wood said.

Witnesses say the complex could have done more to help avoid the entire situation.

"I felt like the Sportsplex could have done something better," said Cindy Coffman, another witness. "When the game was protested, I felt like if they had sent an official up there with that team, none of this would have happened."

Barry said the Sportsplex will be making no more statements regarding the situation until the investigation is completed.

Had the two assistant coaches not jumped in and help pull off the attackers, the situation could have spun out of control.

"It could have been a total disaster," Britt said. "These were strong men and they didn't throw any punches. It could have turned into an entire brawl in the crowd, but they were worried about our coach and getting him out of there."

Reach Luis Torres at and 731-425-9638.

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March 22, 2018


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