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Ready for kickoff

Frederick Ellis Dashiell Jr. | 8/13/2008, 5:23 a.m.
As football season starts, Hub coach looks to rebound from shootingBoston Bengals players and coaches gather before...
Boston Bengals players and coaches gather before practice to hear a prayer and some inspirational words to kick of the 2008-2009 season. Pop Warner football has teams for children ranging in age from 5 years old to 15 years old. Frederick Ellis Dashiell Jr.

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Boston Bengals players and coaches gather before practice to hear a prayer and some inspirational words to kick of the 2008-2009 season. Pop Warner football has teams for children ranging in age from 5 years old to 15 years old.

As football season starts, Hub coach looks to rebound from shooting

Myron Stovell is a busy man — and the pee-wee football season hasn’t even started yet.

During the first practice of the Boston Bengals last month, Stovell was checking on equipment and rosters, while at the same time greeting parents and players — sometimes with a hug — as they made their way onto the field.

As he made sure everything was in order for the inaugural practice of this upcoming season, Stovell said he could see he might have a problem in the coming weeks.

“My biggest concern is having enough players to field all the teams,” Stovell said. “After the incident, a bunch of parents told me they would not be coming back.”

It is not the first time Stovell, 40, has heard about “the incident” from parents.

In 2005, Stovell defended the city’s reputation when suburban teams wanted to break up the Pop Warner league to avoid playing teams from Boston in part because of their fear of urban violence.

At the time, Stovell told the Bay State Banner that there had never been an act of violence in his years of involvement with the league. Still, he explained, parents would call him asking, “I heard there was a shooting in Boston. Is the game still on?”

And then, last year, the unthinkable happened. Stovell himself was shot.

According to Stovell, he was driving to practice with his two children on Oct. 13 when he hit a dog with his truck near Washington Park.

Stovell stopped his truck and got out to check on the condition of the dog and its owner, a 15-year-old boy. The dog appeared to be fine, but despite Stovell’s best efforts, the owner did not believe him.

“He kept repeating, ‘You hit my dog! You hit my dog!’” Stovell recalls.

Unable to convince the boy that his dog was all right, Stovell continued on his way to Saturday afternoon practice. Thirty minutes later, the dog’s owner showed up at the Bengals’ practice with some friends. They surrounded Stovell, shouting obscenities and threatening to hurt him for hitting the dog.

At some point, the dog owner pulled out a 9mm handgun and shot Stovell in the leg.

Stovell was rushed to Boston Medical Center where he was treated for two days and then released.

“My first concern was the children,” he said. “I wanted to make sure they were OK, because the shooting incident is the exact type of violence we are trying to shield them from through Pop Warner.”