Players and family brawl at Florida football games
Brawls erupted at two football games in Collier County, Florida during the past week. One started on high school football field and ended in the stands. In another fight, two parents ended up in jail. The Immokalee High School football was team caught in a scuffle Friday night.
One player was seen holding another back from a fight at a game against Naples High School. Students say several Indians coaches and players jumped into the stands to confront fans reportedly heckling at their own team.
“Some Immokalee guy threatened a parent, the wife of a coach and the coach jumped over the fence and started fighting,” said Naples High senior Jeffrey Bunnett.
“There are a lot of people that sit in the stands and live their lives vicariously through teenage kids. It’s unfortunate when they scream and shout things at kids and coaches’ wives and coaches and they’ve done it for a long time. Tonight was the breaking point,” said Immokalee Indians Coach Jerrod Ackley.
Game rivalry isn’t only happening between players. Students say coaches and parents get too involved, often yelling insults from the stands. Another fight broke out between parents on Saturday night at a Pop Warner game between the Naples Gators and the Cape Coral Junior team.
Melvin and Michelle Allen ended up in jail charged with battery.
“Absolutely chaos. There were chairs flying, fists flying there was people screaming, cussing. It was absolutely ridiculous for a junior football league,” Michelle Allen said.
When they arrived, the fight had ended, but several witnesses stated that 24-year-old Melvin Allen and 39-year-old Michelle Allen were creating a disturbance at the youth football game by using profanity and cursing at children on the field, coaches, and others around them.
Reportedly, a man, Edmund Gagliardi, exchanged words with Melvin and Michelle which resulted in the fight turning physical. Michelle Allen allegedly struck Gagliardi in the face and upper body with both of her fists.
Gagliardi then pushed her back and down.
“As soon as I got in between, I pushed him like this and he swung and punched me in my face. I grabbed his shirt and my husband started swinging,” Michelle Allen said. Melvin Allen then jumped onto Gagliardi’s back and struck him multiple times.
The altercation was eventually broken up by witnesses and both parties went their separate ways. Both parties stated the other started the altercation. Melvin Allen stated that he only struck Gagliardi after he struck his wife. Michelle Allen stated that she only hit Gagliardi after he hit her first.
Both Melvin Allen and Michelle Allen were placed under arrest for battery due to independent statements and physical evidence. “That’s not a good example for the kids. It wasn’t only parents. I was a coach as well. What leadership is that?” said Melvin Allen.
But often when blood boils and fists fly, even coaches admit the adults are worse than the kids. “We lost our composure and we should have done it but there’s a bunch of grown men that act like little boys. They should be ashamed of themselves,” said Coach Ackley.
In a statement, the Collier County School District says they take the Immokalee High School fight very seriously and are conducting a full investigation. For now, football practice is closed to the public and it’s still unclear if the students involved will play this Friday.