Prep football: Marco Charter School board says principal to decide Mike Vanderjagt's fate

Mike Vanderjagt, Marco Island Charter Middle School coach, left, accepts the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference first-place championship trophy. Due to an incident at the school, Vanderjagt's coaching future is in question.

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Mike Vanderjagt, Marco Island Charter Middle School coach, left, accepts the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference first-place championship trophy. Due to an incident at the school, Vanderjagt's coaching future is in question.

In a moment of frustration, a coach’s future has been known to hang in the balance. Mike Vanderjagt, former NFL football place-kicker and part-time coach for Marco Island’s Charter Middle School, has reached such a moment.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the charter school board voted 4-2 to leave the matter, referred to as “the incident,” regarding Vanderjagt in the hands of the principal. That is where it should be, they said. Vanderjagt asked for understanding. His supporters pointed to his service to school and students.

The incident took place on March 12 when Marco Island Police responded to a call from Mark Albanese, dean of students at the school, who reported an adult male grabbed a student by the throat. Since the incident happened at the end of day, the student involved and witnesses had gone home.

Police investigated the following day, talking to students at the scene and to Vanderjagt. One student was taunting Vanderjagt by yelling “wide left, wide left” through a rolled-up poster board that acted as a megaphone, according to a Marco police report.

“During his career, he missed a very important field goal attempt during a playoff game,” the report stated. Vanderjagt played for the Indianapolis Colts and was one of the most accurate place-kickers ever in the league.

Vanderjagt, a school parent and volunteer, was walking through the parking lot when he overheard the comments. One student alleged Vanderjagt walked up to him, grabbed him by the throat and started cursing at him, according to the police report. Another student corroborated his story.

Vanderjagt told police, after hearing the taunting remarks, he approach the student placing his hand on the child’s shoulder at the base of his neck. Vanderjagt told police some students had been making disparaging remarks toward him for months. He said he had become fed up with the behavior.

The reason he touched the child, Vanderjagt told police, was to hold him in place while he spoke to him. Vanderjagt stated he had no intention of hurting or threatening the student. He also mentioned that George Abounader, the school’s principal, was in the area at the time of the incident.

On April 26, officers spoke to Abounader who said he was in the parking lot at the time of the incident but was focused on directing traffic and providing safe walkways for students. He said he did not see the incident.

A check of school video cameras revealed a tree obscured the camera’s view of the incident. Vanderjagt was seen on the tape walking away from the obstructed area toward the gymnasium.

Police sent the report to the State Attorney’s office for review. On May 14, police received correspondence from Assistant State Attorney Richard Montecaivo letting the department know the case had been reviewed and no charges would be issued against Vanderjagt.

Directly after the incident, Vanderjagt was suspended from coaching, a normal procedure when an incident involved school personnel, Abounader told the Eagle.

Vanderjagt told school board members Wednesday he talked to the student’s parents two days after the incident and apologized. The student, he said, apologized to him, too.

Roger Raymond, athletic director at the middle school, told the school board he had waited for the State Attorney’s report, and when no charges were filed, he felt comfortable asking Vanderjagt to coach for the Marco Island Academy this fall. He also said he saw no reason why Vanderjagt should not be able to continue coaching at the middle school.

“Mike Vanderjagt wants to coach, and I don’t think that should be taken away,” Raymond said.

School board member Gayle Collins said as the volleyball coach, she worked close by Vanderjagt on many occasions. She said he was respectful of the students and even started a homework club before practices.

Douglas Dye, parent of a 6th grade student, said in his experience Vanderjagt had always been good with the students echoing his respect for them. He asked any decision consider the positive influence Vanderjagt had on the students and community.

Vanderjagt told the school board he loved coaching and valued the middle school.

This school’s athletic programs would not be where they are without the help of Vanderjagt, Raymond said.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 25

happy34145 writes:

tick...tick...tick...

RayPray writes:

Forget our marines & soldiers in Afghanistan.

From ESPN, we all know that it's all the bulked-up employees of the NFL that are all our genuine American heroes!

All that stuff about brain damage is a lie!

http://www.thepostgame.com/features/2...

For this reason, we should cut Mike some major slack here.

Maybe we can just expel this evidently trouble-making kid.

Wouldn't you trust this Mike around your kid as much as, say, Michael Vick around your pooch?

happy6 writes:

vandy needs to fix his sorry restaurant and forget about trying to train marco kids....strangle his cook!

Brisla writes:

My kids have been very active in youth sports for the past few years, and have had many different coaches. Some are terrible, some are very good. Mike is one of the best.

waterday writes:

Mike helps many kids, my children were never coached by him, but hey, then again.. maybe he is getting them ready for "the real world" aka Lely High School. Where the norm these days is to slap, body slam, hit those Marco children. Mike= one time s----- mistake occurrence, Lely =happens frequently to Marco kids. Parents, get involved when you see abuse, report it and choose your school wisely!

eaglepalooza writes:

in response to waterday:

Mike helps many kids, my children were never coached by him, but hey, then again.. maybe he is getting them ready for "the real world" aka Lely High School. Where the norm these days is to slap, body slam, hit those Marco children. Mike= one time s----- mistake occurrence, Lely =happens frequently to Marco kids. Parents, get involved when you see abuse, report it and choose your school wisely!

dont slander Lely. Name names or shut up!
You are right"choose your school wisely"...
ANYONE THAT SENDS THEIR CHILD TO THE DYSFUNCTIONAL MARCO ACADEMY NEEDS THIER HEAD EXAMINED! Teachers, principal, students ALL bailed out on this JOKE OF A SCHOOL!

waterday writes:

eaglepalooza. the truth is not slander, yep choose your schools wisely parents, or you might just have wished you had picked a different path. This isn't about MIA, the article states it happened at MICMS.. can you read? let me guess. you are one of those parents that graduated from "the real world"? that world has changed a bit, since you likely came from there.

RayPray writes:

in response to waterday:

Mike helps many kids, my children were never coached by him, but hey, then again.. maybe he is getting them ready for "the real world" aka Lely High School. Where the norm these days is to slap, body slam, hit those Marco children. Mike= one time s----- mistake occurrence, Lely =happens frequently to Marco kids. Parents, get involved when you see abuse, report it and choose your school wisely!

"getting them ready for "the real world"... Where the norm these days is to slap, body slam, hit...."

Is that you Jerry?

http://www.glamour.com/inspired/magaz...

bigfishkd writes:

George make the right decision and if you need help NO is the right one,or let the parents decide? they will in the end with the new board members...25 yrs on Marco-big deal maybe you should be mayor or the new principal when George shows his true colors.Lely didn't want him so why should we.. let SG and AD run the show this year at both schools they will do wonderful and give Vandy the next couple of years off to cool down....if a teacher had done this they would have been gone immediately, no discussion, SO why are we having one George?

happyhorowitz34145 writes:

How s----- are some people or this dumb kid to taunt someone and not expect some type of reprisal!
Especially,this kid... yelling
"Wide left, Wide left, Wide left!"
How s----- is this kid?
It was "wide right"!!!!!!
Good luck Mike!!!!!!!!

A-Z writes:

I have heard time and time again people pass judgement on Mike Vanderjagt, from information gleaned from the media and rumour mill.
When asked if they know him or have ever met him, the most vociferous detractors almost always respond with ..... " well, no but I heard .....or a friend of a friend said"
Mike is a great guy, who is respected by the kids.He coaches in a quiet, patient and encouraging way - I have seen this with my own eyes many many times, so I defy anyone to tell me otherwise.
I have heard Mike been referred to as arrogant and aloof, get to know the guy and nothing could be further from the truth. Mike is an engaging and humble guy with a keen wit, but he has adopted a "quiet man" approach as a result of all the haters out there.

So what the guy misses a field goal - good reason for a lifetime of vilification?

The kid concerned clearly has himself marked as a cool dude and was playing the big man in front of his buddies, ( lets face it the kid wouldnt have been old enough to remember Mikes failed kick - indicated by his shouting of "wide left" the failed field goal was wide right) not to worry, maturity and the school of hard knocks called life will inevitably remove the rough edges.

It would be a travesty for Mike not to be reinstated as coach , the incident has been investigated, no charges were brought, end of story.

To let Mike go would be a wasted opportunity of talent, enthusiasm and dedication to inspiring the next generation of grid iron heroes.

RayPray writes:

in response to A-Z:

I have heard time and time again people pass judgement on Mike Vanderjagt, from information gleaned from the media and rumour mill.
When asked if they know him or have ever met him, the most vociferous detractors almost always respond with ..... " well, no but I heard .....or a friend of a friend said"
Mike is a great guy, who is respected by the kids.He coaches in a quiet, patient and encouraging way - I have seen this with my own eyes many many times, so I defy anyone to tell me otherwise.
I have heard Mike been referred to as arrogant and aloof, get to know the guy and nothing could be further from the truth. Mike is an engaging and humble guy with a keen wit, but he has adopted a "quiet man" approach as a result of all the haters out there.

So what the guy misses a field goal - good reason for a lifetime of vilification?

The kid concerned clearly has himself marked as a cool dude and was playing the big man in front of his buddies, ( lets face it the kid wouldnt have been old enough to remember Mikes failed kick - indicated by his shouting of "wide left" the failed field goal was wide right) not to worry, maturity and the school of hard knocks called life will inevitably remove the rough edges.

It would be a travesty for Mike not to be reinstated as coach , the incident has been investigated, no charges were brought, end of story.

To let Mike go would be a wasted opportunity of talent, enthusiasm and dedication to inspiring the next generation of grid iron heroes.

"Mike is a great guy, "

"To let Mike go would be a wasted opportunity of talent, enthusiasm and dedication to inspiring the next generation of grid iron heroes."

---- Well put, Mike. Already I am feeling your tingle of inspiration....

marcofriend writes:

After Mike moved to Marco Island and got established, I wasn't sure what sort of an individual he was. While being aware of his one time issue, I kept my distance and watched Mike grow, both in his business and the community. Mike is younger than me and I'm glad to have gotten to know him a little, and I see how much he cares for the youth on this island. How disappointing that the principal decided to make a rush judgement against someone who has worked so hard for the shool and community. Mike will always be a winner in my book!

Chestnutcondo#257855 writes:

I wish this reporter would have wrote her story based on truths. Now, not only does the school owe Mike an apology so does this reporter. Mike has been such an asset to all the kids of Marco and all the kids he has coached on so many teams. Marco has never had a coach with the experience, and education in this field as Mike. This is an incident that happened at the end of school, probably 300 people in 50 foot radius and no adult saw it. You, reporter and MICMS have tried to tarnish a man's
reputation that has given 110% to our kids. I have taught my children to always be respectful of adults and if anyone ever sees any of my children being otherwise PLEASE reprimand them, as I would do to any child I saw doing same. Mike, I commend you on your action and thank you for all you have given to Marco and especially to our kids. I only wish someone could taunt me for something I did in an NFL game! I hope you will continue to give yourself to our children and I know my kids feel blessed to have the opportunity to know you and have been coached by you! Adults, act like adults, and put the
blame where it is, some immature kids made one of many mistakes they will make, and got caught! End of story!

bigfishkd writes:

make the right choice George,,,,,,,NO Mike for Marco Schools

Ruger writes:

in response to eaglepalooza:

dont slander Lely. Name names or shut up!
You are right"choose your school wisely"...
ANYONE THAT SENDS THEIR CHILD TO THE DYSFUNCTIONAL MARCO ACADEMY NEEDS THIER HEAD EXAMINED! Teachers, principal, students ALL bailed out on this JOKE OF A SCHOOL!

This is quite telling, care to tell us what your job position is at Lely?

WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot writes:

This is actually pretty funny. Not sure the kid deserved to be grabbed by the throat by a former NFL player? Anger issues? Really though, it's no big deal. NFL players beat their girlfriends/wives regularly, sell drugs, kill their wives, shoot people, carry weapons where they shouldn't, and lead LAPD on low speed chases down the interstate. So...this is really nothing.

Good one kid!

Ruger writes:

in response to happy34145:

tick...tick...tick...

exnfl123 writes:

Really? Mike should take the high road and just fade away, accept the fact that he screwed up and go elsewhere...

bigdog1970 writes:

Again the Marco Eagle with its team of fair reporting journalists, report nothing but mistruths and for some reason try and ruin the life of another decent person.
Cheryl Ferrera, did you actually go to college and take a journalism class to get this job or did you write for your high school newspaper and that qualified you as a reporter for this rag?
I was never a fan of Mike Vanderjagt, but that was due to being in competition against my NFL team.
I, like others have got to know Mike Vanderjagt through volunteering in various sports programs over the past few years.
I now have a great respect for Mike, he has a great raport with, and is respected by the youths in the various programs that he's involved in. He has helped more kids on this island (even kids not involved in sports)than anyone knows.
The child involved was NEVER strangled!
The child involved has since apologised to Mr. Vanderjagt!
The childs parent has apologised for his sons actions!
The State Att. has said that there is no case.
The MIPD never pressed charges.
Mike, there are alot of people on this island that support you.
Keep your head up!

ttraeger writes:

in response to RayPray:

Forget our marines & soldiers in Afghanistan.

From ESPN, we all know that it's all the bulked-up employees of the NFL that are all our genuine American heroes!

All that stuff about brain damage is a lie!

http://www.thepostgame.com/features/2...

For this reason, we should cut Mike some major slack here.

Maybe we can just expel this evidently trouble-making kid.

Wouldn't you trust this Mike around your kid as much as, say, Michael Vick around your pooch?

Welcome back RayPray! Hope you are feeling better! Had you in my thoughts and prayers for sometime now.

ttraeger writes:

in response to happyhorowitz34145:

How s----- are some people or this dumb kid to taunt someone and not expect some type of reprisal!
Especially,this kid... yelling
"Wide left, Wide left, Wide left!"
How s----- is this kid?
It was "wide right"!!!!!!
Good luck Mike!!!!!!!!

hh34145, you are so very correct! Not only did Vandy choke that day, but so did his entire team, but WAIT - even the officials tried their best to help his badly overrated team, all to no avail. Yes, it was Wide Right! The kid is dumb and Vandy isn't much brighter, putting his hands on a Minor! Ye Gawds. I think at times the former celebrities on this Island gotta come down to earth as did the great Ken Ventura and several others. Perhaps Vandy's should be renamed "Wide Right" Here we go Steelers, Here we go Steelers, Here we GO! Everybody wave Terrible Towel at this point! Having said that, let's all remember those who have sacrificed that we have the freedom to say these things! God Bless America!

20_Days writes:

As a parent, I would not be happy with my child and I would be the one that would, and should, reprimand and handle my child's lack of respect. That being said, by definition, this was a physical assualt by an adult on a child -apology or not! He should have never put his hands on any student unless the student was doing bodily harm to another person. He had time to cool down and face the child without resorting to being physical. This was/is wrong and if it is just brushed under the rug, it tells us that the school system and the administration are accepting behaviors that should not ever be tolerated by either a student, techer or parent.

waterday writes:

Acceptable coaching or bullying? happened in many games at Lely High School. These are assaults in our eyes as a parent, and the athlete did nothing to provoke this bully, he was walking out on court to play, there were countless smacks, this is wrong.
http://youtu.be/WH2DUOeEcZ4

Oldgoat writes:

As I read the comments that have been written/posted, I find it amazing that most of the adults that have written comments seem to have forgotten where they came from and what it was like when we were in school. Let me start out by saying that I absolutely 100% agree that the most important thing here is the safety of any child weather they are right or wrong. However parents, let's go back in time to when we were in school. Just the thought of provoking a teacher, much less a team coach was a very s----- and death defying act. I agree that the days where the children are scared or intimidated by teachers are long behind us, and rightfully so. However, there is still a thing called respect. Weather you are a teacher, coach or a waiter/waitress, does not mean you are a whipping post for a child. Yes, we are adults and should overlook the way some kids act or what/how they say say things to us, but at times the overlook part doesn't always work. I guess that because the police are adults, and they are a figure of authority (and a teacher/coach is a figure of authority also) they should not be to upset if a child walks up to them a says "oink, oink"! I think the bigger picture in what has become a circus, is the fact that a mistake was made. This didn't turn out to be an adult pummeling/hitting a child/student. As the principal of the school, you have two responsibilities to the children and parents. First is the safety of our children and second is giving them the best and most qualified teachers (and coaches) so they can excel in all they do. You undoubtably have some of the best teachers at the school, and the parents are much appreciative of that (honestly). To go along with that, you have one of the best coaches (a professional athlete) in your football coach as well. He took a bunch of first year, young kids that I'm not to sure had a bunch of experience playing team football (tackle at that) and did absolutely outstanding. Not once, was there a parent or child complaining that they were be mistreated or abused. And folks, during football, it really is hell for the kids sometimes. So I think it's time to get off the he's so terrible wagon, look at what he has done for the kids of the island and move forward. No, he is not part of the good old boy group, but then again, neither are our kids!!!

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