Father apologizes for confronting coach
A father accused of confronting his daughter’s basketball coach pleaded guilty Friday to a misdemeanor battery charge and agreed to undergo an anger management evaluation.
Dan Paterson, 51, of Gardnerville, said he regrets challenging Justin Pruett, the Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School eighth grade girls basketball coach, and he hopes to apologize personally.
“I realize this wasn’t what I should have done. I’m astounded that it’s gotten this far,” Paterson said during a hearing in Carson City Justice Court.
Paterson was originally charged with a gross misdemeanor count of battery. The case was scheduled for a preliminary hearing to determine if a district court trial was warranted, but the sides agreed to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor.
The original charge was classified as a gross misdemeanor, punishable by a year in jail, because the victim was a working school district employee.
The confrontation happened after a basketball game at Eagle Valley Middle School Oct. 26. Pau-Wa-Lu lost, and Paterson, who has more than 20 years experience coaching and teaching in Douglas County, said he approached Pruett on behalf of his daughter to discuss the coach’s strategy.
Paterson told Justice Court Judge John Tatro that Pruett refused to talk, and he grabbed the coach’s collar.
“It was a natural instinct for me, just to get him to listen,” he said.
Court records say two Eagle Valley teachers witnessed the incident. One said Paterson grabbed Pruett and made a threatening statement. The other said he heard yelling and saw one man with a hand on the other’s neck.
Tatro, who coaches youth sports himself, accepted Paterson’s explanation but called his conduct unexcusable.
“As this sage, wise teacher, you’re at a higher standard,” he said. “You had a responsibility to treat it like a professional, and you didn’t. You did it like one of those crazed parents.
“You blew it big-time, and there’s no excuse.”
Tatro suspended a 90-day jail sentence on the conditions that Paterson undergo an anger management evaluation, complete 40 hours of community service and have no contact with Pruett unless Pruett initiates it. Paterson must also write a letter of apology to Pruett.
Paterson said after the hearing he wants to put the incident behind him.
“I’d like to get this behind me and move on,” he said. “I’ve learned a lesson.”