LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Four current and former high school football players testified Wednesday during the trial of a former high school football coach charged with reckless homicide that they ran hard the day a player collapsed.
All four, though, said former Pleasure Ridge Park High School coach David Jason Stinson didn't deny anyone water on Aug. 20, 2008, the day sophomore offensive lineman Max Gilpin went down at the end of practice.
The four players testified in the case of Stinson, who is also charged with wanton endangerment. He has pleaded not guilty to both charges. Gilpin died three days after collapsing on the field, and Stinson is charged in a rare case of a coach being prosecuted for a player's death.
Defensive lineman Christian Vincent, now a 17-year-old senior at the school, said he, along with Gilpin and other linemen, missed the last water break before Stinson ordered players to start running gassers — sideline to sideline sprints — because they were receiving extra instruction from four position coaches.
"Those four coaches were aware you were missing water break, correct?" defense attorney Alex Dathorne asked.
"Yes, sir," Vincent answered.
Vincent said no one told Stinson the linemen were missing a water break.
The players all testified that Stinson allowed players feeling ill to stop running and leave the field. The players also said Stinson yelled that the running would continue until someone quit the team.
David Englert, who was a senior wide receiver in 2008, quit along with another teammate to end the running and practice. Englert, who returned to the team a couple of weeks later only to quit again, said he left because Stinson was yelling.
"He just goes off on me and I ended up quitting," Englert said.
Jurors also heard testimony from a parent watching a nearby soccer game. The parent said Stinson yelled at the players, but appeared to be excusing players who were ill.
Susan Fife, whose daughter was playing soccer on a field adjacent to the football field, said she saw and heard players becoming ill but couldn't see the whole practice.
Fife said she saw coaches bring Gilpin to a water station on the field and douse him.
"He did not appear responsive to me," Fife said.
Prosecutors said Stinson ran a brutal practice the day Gilpin collapsed. Stinson's defense said the practice wasn't unusually hard.