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Pop Warner coach to face assault charges in fracas with parent

MICHAEL D. VONKAHLE: 'I didn’t think I was going to take a beating for saying something. That was my mistake.' MICHAEL D. VONKAHLE:
"I didn’t think I was going to take a beating for saying something. That was my mistake."
By Brian R. Ballou
Globe Staff / October 20, 2009

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WILMINGTON - A Pop Warner football coach accused of punching a parent hard enough to cause severe facial injuries after a verbal spat during a practice last week will face aggravated assault and battery charges next month, authorities said yesterday.

Police filed charges yesterday in Woburn District Court against William D. Reynolds, the same day Michael D. VonKahle spent several hours at Massachusetts General Hospital undergoing evaluation and treatment for his injuries, including a fractured eye socket, broken nose, and torn rotator cuff on his shoulder.

Reynolds has been suspended from the league in connection with the Friday incident, and further action against him, including the possibility of being banned from coaching in the league, will be taken up in a Pop Warner board meeting in the off-season, officials said. His former team, in the C category, was led by assistant coaches in a game on Sunday. Reynolds had coached in the league for at least three years before taking off several seasons and returning this year.

Both men accuse the other of being the aggressor and throwing the first punch after they walked side-by-side from the practice field to a nearby secluded area to resolve their dispute, which started at 5:37 p.m., when VonKahle brought his son late to practice, a police report indicates.

Reynolds told the 12-year-old boy to run laps as a consequence. VonKahle, 48, told police that he responded to Reynolds by saying, “If anybody needs to run laps, it should be you, you fat [expletive].’’

VonKahle said he made his remarks in a joking manner, but Reynolds, in his statement to police, said the parent continually taunted him. About three minutes later, as VonKahle sat in the bleachers with several other adults, Reynolds approached and asked if they could talk.

Reynolds said he told VonKahle, “if there is a problem and you want to talk, let’s go somewhere not in front of the kids.’’ The two men walked toward a nearby wooded area. That’s where, according to VonKahle, Reynolds immediately tossed off his jacket and threw a punch at him, hitting him in the face.

But according to Reynolds, VonKahle threw his own jacket around Reynolds’s head and began punching him on the side of the head. Reynolds said he took the jacket off his head and returned punches and, after a brief slew of blows, said to VonKahle, “We had enough?’’ VonKahle responded “Yeah,’’ according to Reynolds.

Reynolds said he got up and walked back to the practice field. “I consider my actions to be a result of his aggressive actions toward me,’’ Reynolds said in a statement to police.

VonKahle went to the police station to file a report and appeared briefly at Woburn District Court yesterday with the intention of filing an application for a criminal complaint against Reynolds. VonKahle did not file a complaint, but hours later police did, and the court clerk issued a summons for the arraignment, scheduled for Nov. 17.

Outside the courthouse yesterday, VonKahle told Channel 7 News: “I didn’t think I was going to take a beating for saying something. That was my mistake. Yeah, I made a mistake in calling him a fat . . . but, you know, I went over to the other parents, I sat there, and then he came over and said ‘Let’s go for a walk.’ As we got out there, and he threw down his jacket; it was a whole different thing. And then two seconds later, I was lights out, and it was over. I actually said, ‘What the bleep,’ and I was looking at his jacket, and as soon as I put my eyes on it, gone. I was out.’’

In a telephone interview yesterday, local Pop Warner board member and the board’s football director, Mark Ferreira, said: “Any youth program is supposed to set examples, but there were no examples set by anyone out there.’’