Supporters Rally Behind Indicted Louisville Coach

LOUISVILLE, KY. -- Tears welling in his eyes, David Jason Stinson -- or "coach" to students at Pleasure Ridge Park High School -- told about 100 students, parents and friends outside his home last night that "my heart's broken," reports The Louisville Courier-Journal in its Sunday edition.

"Part of my life's been taken away," he said, holding back emotion. "I no longer teach; I no longer coach in school."

Stinson, the head football coach, was indicted Thursday by a Jefferson County grand jury on a charge of reckless homicide in the death of Max Gilpin, a 15-year-old who collapsed from heat stroke during practice five months ago. Stinson has been removed from the classroom and reassigned pending the outcome of his case.

A tall, hefty man with buzzed hair, Stinson isn't one to cry in front of a group, said Casey Ford, who had Stinson as a coach for two years. "That was probably one of the most heartbreaking things," said Ford, now a student at Jefferson Community and Technical College. "He's so big and you don't think anything can hurt him."

Stinson will be arraigned tomorrow, but that hasn't shaken the confidence those gathered for last night's vigil said they have in him. Some held up signs with words of support, and others left notes for Stinson, who retreated to his house after delivering the short speech, reports The Louisville Courier-Journal.

Shivering in the cold, the group shared prayers and memories of Stinson, whom they described as a man with strong faith. "Every morning he would come in, he just had this glow about him," said Ariel Whitaker, who had Stinson for two Web design classes. "He could make anyone smile."

A few boys wearing PRP football sweat shirts gathered in one area of the lawn. One of them, senior Blake Johnson, said they were there "just to show that we're there for him, show that we're there as a team." He said he knew Max "pretty well."

Max, a sophomore lineman on the varsity football team, collapsed Aug. 20 during practice and died three days later at Kosair Children's Hospital. This is the first time a criminal charge has been filed in such a case involving a high school or college coach in the United States, sports experts said.

Since the indictment, friends have been encouraging Stinson, and some students are organizing a walk in support of the coach that will start at the high school at 2 p.m. Saturday.

More than 1,100 students, parents and friends have signed up as members of a Facebook page called "supporters of Coach Jason Stinson."

Another page, called "Justice for Max Gilpin," has 70 members, a few of whom are critical of the support being expressed for Stinson, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal.

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