Mishawaka High School Wrestling Coach gaining support from parents

More than 100 parents attended Tuesday's school board meeting to show support for suspended Wrestling Coach Darrick Snyder.

Snyder was suspended last month after a 17-year-old student claimed he was sexually assaulted by six team mates in February 2010. The students were charged for their roles, but Snyder was not and it is not clear if even he knew about the incident prior to the accuser coming forward.

"I think a lot of people don't know the whole story and I’m not saying that it didn’t happen or it didn’t happen to a certain extent, we don't know. We weren’t there. I think the biggest thing is I fully believe in my heart that Darrick didn't know if anything happened. That’s not the type of person he is. He has integrity," said Michelle Eby, who has a son on the wrestling team.

During the meeting, five people spoke in favor of reinstating Snyder before sectionals begin this weekend.

"We’ve all known Snyder for a very long time. Most of our kids have had him coaching since they were in the third or fourth grade as my son has. He's more than just a coach here as most of the parents say. He's a teacher in this community, he's parent in this community, he has a son of his own. He cares about our boys as much as he cares about his own," said Eby.

Eby echoed comments made by parents at the meeting who said Snyder had been a positive influence in their children's lives and they missed him both in the classroom and on the wrestling mat.

"When I was getting divorced it was a really rough time for my son and Darrick really helped him through that with some anger issue and how he could use wrestling to get through those and he's just been a good confidant. I think all the boys feel comfortable talking to him and knowing its going to stay between them and he's going to help them through it," said Eby.

Snyder did not attend the board meeting, but his brother Chris took to the podium to express his support.

"It's hard. His life is stripped from him and I think having not coached one wrestling season, those are kids that he'll never be able to take their senior year with him again. There’s nothing more rewarding than teaching a kid for four years then their senior year they go to state and you're their coach on the side," said Chris Snyder, Darrick's older brother. "We're all human, we're not machines. We all make mistakes, but my brother, the whole thing that started this...he knew nothing about, so we just need to move on from there and do what's right. He deserves to coach. "

The board did not respond to public comment made by Snyder supporters because it is 'a personnel matter'.

"When it's a personnel issue and you can't engage in question and answer periods and things like that. It's very difficult, especially when you see how emotional some of the folks become and how strongly they feel about it," said Marci Sears, president of the school board.

Superintendent Terry Barker declined to comment on camera.


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