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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
"I have no idea," East Bay football coach Brian Thornton said. "They change the rules every other week, and when they change 'em, they don't tell anybody. So how the heck are you supposed to know what the heck is going on?"
When Thornton was told the basics of the new rule - athletes can practice sports-specific drills with their coaches during the offseason beginning in the 2006-07 school year but only if the practices are off campus and under the umbrella of an outside organization such as AAU - he said, "When the heck was this passed?"
Garcia called Sonny Hester, the associate commissioner of the Florida High School Athletic Association, this week because he didn't want to get caught breaking rules over the summer. After Garcia hung up, he thought the change happened within the past few days.
When told it happened last January, he said, "Last January?!"
He said, "I'll bet hardly any coaches in this county know that."
Hester said that's because the FHSAA oversees more than 200,000 athletes and 60,000 coaches and it's hard to make sure each and every one knows everything.
"Look, we put the rules on our Web site, and they are there for everybody to read," Hester said.
"I tell coaches and athletic directors all the time that they need to be proactive and look on that Web site every day."
Then again, before Garcia got reprimanded by the FHSAA in May for breaking the rule of coaching in the offseason, the sentiment was everybody breaks offseason training rules anyway and nobody has ever gotten in trouble for it.
Less than 10 years ago, in fact, Garcia said he was on an FHSAA football committee with six coaches from around the state and he suggested they try to change the rule to what it is now.
But, he said, the committee blew it off because, "Nobody follows the rules anyway."
Thornton said, "The only reason they changed this rule was because the whole state was out of control. It was too much to police.
"Now my question is, "Why do they go out of their way to make rules if they're not going to enforce them?"'
Hester said, "We're enforcing them now! So the coaches better read the Web site." Vernon Korhn, Hillsborough County's director of athletics, said he knows the rules and will "most certainly," enforce them.
"And this July," he said, "I'm bringing Sonny Hester down here to talk to all of our schools' athletic directors and coaches who would like to attend. Everybody is invited, and everything will be perfectly laid out plain and clear."
"Good," Garcia said. "That's the way it should be."
So after the rules are laid out plain and clear, what are the odds of coaches practicing with their teams off campus in the offseason?
"I will be. You can bet on that," said Garcia, who faces termination if caught for violating any more rules. "But I bet I'm the only one. I'll bet you drive by almost any school in the offseason and there will be football players running through drills with their coaches.