Coach in controversial cheerleading 'split' video went to JP high school

In June, the family of a 13-year old at Denver's East High School complained their child was painfully forced into a split by newly hired coach Ozell Williams, a 2008 graduate of West Jefferson High School.

After receiving complaints from parents two months ago, Denver police are now investigating incidents with multiple cheerleaders who say training involved uneccesary force that caused injuries.

Five people are now on leave during the investigation, including one of the coaches who has Louisiana roots.

In June, the family of a 13-year-old at Denver's East High School, complained their child was painfully forced into a split by newly-hired coach Ozell Williams. He can be seen in back of her, pushing her in position. Coach Williams is a gymnast and is a 2008 graduate of West Jefferson High School, where he was a cheerleader.

Shantrice Gloster was on the squad with him. While she says the video is difficult to watch and the technique of force went too far, he is otherwise a good person.

"This is just one incident. This should not have happened. I didn't think he would be capable of this and I'm sure he didn't do this on purpose. He didn't purposely hold her down and mean to hurt her," said Gloster. 

Eyewitness News talked to Ozell Williams by phone. He said he would never harm a child and wants to tell his side of the story, but needed his attorney's permission. Calls to her were not returned. LSU Health Sciences Center expert, Exercise Physiologist  Dr. Melinda Sothern, says while ballistic and active stretching can be used on elite athletes, by trained professionals, it should never be used in children still growing.

"Bouncing stretches are not approved for children, because of the fear that it will pull a muscle from a bone to stop bone growth," said Dr. Sothern who said it was difficult to watch the video.

Williams reportedly was taught this technique. Dr. Sothern says wrong techniques are commonly used. And children should always be in full control of the depth of any stretch.

"This is why it's going on, because we don't have financial resources to hire properly trained pediatric sports medicine professionals. You never want to go to the point of pain. What pain means when you're exercising, is that something is getting damaged," Dr. Sothern said. 

In the past 'no pain no gain' methods were taught, but in the last 10 years, scientific publications are now coming out showing this is especially harmful to growing children and teens.

Dr. Sothern says for proper flexibility training, first warm up the muscle.

Then get in position and hold the stretch for 15 seconds to a gentle burn. Improvement will come over the next several weeks.

Dr. Sothern has written several books on pediatric weight loss and exercise based on scientific evidence. She has proper techniques for these health issues for children and teens.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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