West Mifflin youth football coach takes responsibility for allowing over-age player on field
The coach of a West Mifflin youth football team that fielded a player that was too old took responsibility for the situation.
Rod Bailey, the coach of the West Mifflin Titans football team and a league official, said he didn’t think the boy should be allowed to play but felt his hands were tied by rules requiring players to play a minimum number of downs.
The boy, who is 275 pounds, 6-feet, 2-inches tall and will turn 14 this month, injured a player on a team from Charleroi made up of mostly 10 and 11 year olds.
As soon as the boy played his minimum number of downs, Bailey said he took him out of the game.
“It is just sad what happened,” Bailey said. “I take responsibility, because I’m the coach.”
Officials from the Washington/Greene Youth Football League in which the West Mifflin team played met after the game and decided to ban the team for the season.
Bill Spencer, the league’s president, told the Trib on Friday that West Mifflin team officials provided false information on registration forms for the boy. Spencer showed the Trib an email where the boy’s mother, Jackie Dawson, claimed that she talked to Tiffany Palyok, the league’s former vice president, and another leader of the West Mifflin team who told her it was OK for her son to play.
Palyok disputed the accusations against her and said she is being unfairly and unjustly blamed for of allowing the boy to play.
Palyok has been involved in the West Mifflin league for 11 years but has mostly worked with the cheerleaders. She volunteered to be the league’s vice president, resigned but agreed to still help out. Her daughters cheer and her son plays football at the high school. She said she had nothing to gain by cheating to allow this boy to play.
Palyok said she had nothing to do with the decision to let the boy play.
She said she has received several threats and brought the matter to the West Mifflin police. She called the blame and accusations against her a “witch hunt.”
“I am completely devastated,” Palyok said when she spoke to the Tribune-Review this weekend. “I don’t even want to leave my house.”
Palyok said the boy’s mother put the wrong birth date on the registration form. She said Bailey, the coach, told her the boy could play after he said Spencer gave him the OK.
“What I will own at this point is not questioning him,” Palyok said.
Spencer stood by what he told the Trib on Friday and said that he and Bailey never talked about the boy. Bailey also said that he and Spencer never talked about the boy. Both said the boy shouldn’t have been allowed to play because he was in a grade too high for the team, and he did not live in West Mifflin.
Derrick Brooks, the boy’s father, said they didn’t fill out any forms for their son and that he was well-known to the West Mifflin team. The boy, who lives in McKeesport, has played for West Mifflin since 2010, Brooks said.
Brooks said he didn’t think it was right for his son to play against such younger and small boys.
“He didn’t go out to hurt nobody,” Brooks said. “Me and his mother, we would never put him in a situation with kids three or four years younger than him.
“That situation is just dangerous.”
Bailey said after the team was banned, Palyok did everything she could to find a league for the kids to play in but parents blocked her attempts.
“She did the best she could do, she truly did,” Bailey said.
A total of five players from the Charleroi team were injured during the game but only one by the boy that is too old to play in the league, Palyok said.
Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Aaron at 412-336-8448, [email protected] or via Twitter @tinynotebook.