Girl injured during scuffle at Gophers-Iowa football game

Jeff Sherry

A 14-year-old girl from Circle Pines, Minn., broke a bone in her back Saturday night when she was caught in the middle of a fight during the Gophers football game.
Witnesses say an angry Minnesota fan dived headfirst toward an Iowa fan, but instead collided with Tamara Schaps. Medical personnel carried Schaps on a wooden stretcher to the Metrodome first-aid area, transported her to Children’s United Hospital for treatment and released her that night.
Doctors diagnosed Schaps’ injury as a broken transverse process on her back — part of the vertebrae that does not affect spinal cord stability or risk of paralysis. She is on pain medication and is undergoing further tests to determine what treatment will be necessary.
“She’s having a very tough time even walking, moving or sitting,” said Rita Schaps-Franke, Schaps’ mother. “She’s in pretty rough shape right now.”
The fight broke out after a controversial fumble in the third quarter of Saturday’s game. Schaps, along with her mother, step-father and grandmother, were seated in lower-level seats near the 50-yard line.
Tony Franke, Schaps’ step-father, said two Iowa fans in front of them stood up and started badgering a group of Minnesota fans, who were seated about five rows behind them.
“They were yelling back and forth,” Schaps-Franke said. “And the ones from down below started yelling, Come on, let’s go at it. Let’s go at it.’ And this other guy from above goes, No, you come on up here and we’ll do it, we’ll do it.'”
Schaps-Franke said the Iowa fans started moving toward some empty seats in front of her daughter.
“And all of a sudden this other guy came flying through the air over the seats behind us,” Schaps-Franke said. “My daughter was turning around to find out what was going on, because she was scared and trying to get out of the way of what was happening.
“As she was turning around — she was almost full-face back toward the backside of the stadium — this guy flew right into her, cracked her back right over, and flipped her over the bleachers in front of her and onto the floor. And there she layed, and could not move.”
Schaps-Franke said the two Iowa fans and the Minnesota fan, who is a member of a Gophers booster club, all fled the scene. The Iowa fans were not found, but police say they’ve identified the Minnesota fan.
Sgt. Scott Gerlicher of the Minneapolis Police Department said he expects the city attorney to charge the suspect with disorderly conduct next week. The county attorney’s office is considering charging him with felony assault, but Gerlicher said he doubted that would happen because it didn’t appear the man intended to hurt Schaps.
The suspect’s name won’t be made public until he is charged. If convicted of the misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct, he could get a $700 fine or 90 days in jail. But those penalties might be the least of his worries; Schaps-Franke said the family has hired an attorney and is pursuing a civil suit.
Schaps was not the only family member to receive medical treatment. Georgianna Warden, Schaps’ 68-year-old grandmother, was mentally shaken-up in the incident.
In fact, the entire family is still a bit shaken from the experience. It was the first Gophers football game Schaps-Franke had ever gone to.
“I never expected this to happen, especially in the area of professionals where we were sitting,” Schaps-Franke said. “It just floors me.”