Afternoon Newsletter

Delhi coach investigated after allegedly hitting player

DELHI -- A girl's basketball coach at Delhi High School could face criminal charges after hitting one of her players several times.

The 22-year-old female junior varsity coach, whose name is being withheld since she hasn't been arrested, hit her player in the locker room Jan. 24 after finding out it was the girl's birthday, said Deputy Tom MacKenzie, Merced sheriff's spokesman.

The coach "decided to celebrate" by giving the 16-year-old, 16 "birthday punches" on her arm with the rest of the team watching, MacKenzie said. The coach allegedly stopped after 10 punches and told the other girls on the team it was their responsibility to give her six more.

After the incident, the victim's mother noticed her daughter rubbing her arm, which had red marks on it, MacKenzie said. The daughter eventually told her mother what happened.

A bruise had reportedly developed where the coach hit the girl, MacKenzie said.

The Merced County Sheriff's Department was contacted Jan. 25 and started an investigation, MacKenzie said. The incident was also reported to the school.

As part of its investigation, the Sheriff's Department interviewed the victim, coach and witnesses, MacKenzie said. A copy of the report was forwarded to the District Attorney's office for review of willful injury to a minor, he said.

Brian Stephens, superintendent of the Delhi Unified School District, affirmed that no one has been arrested, cited or charged in the incident.

However, the school removed the coach from her position after learning of the situation that was deemed to be "not appropriate," he said, adding that he didn't want to give many details because it's a personnel issue.

"It sounds weird to me, but evidently that's what the coach did," Stephens said.

The coaching job was a paid position, he said, describing her as a "walk-on coach." She wasn't a teacher or full-time member of the staff.

"The school acted promptly and properly the very next day," Stephens said. "They handled it immediately."

Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or