Drama is unfolding within a Little League team in Apache Junction. Two coaches are accused of cheating on the league draft and have been asked to step down. But some parents are upset, saying they're not sure if their kids will be able to play.
It all started with a letter a parent sent to the Little League board, potentially blowing the lid off a Little League scheme. While the board said they had no choice but ask the coaches to resign, the coaches told us they did nothing wrong.
"It's disturbing because it's youth sports," said Michelle Johnson, whose son, Owen, plays on the team. "The kids are nine."
Owen's coaches were accused of telling the kids that played on their year-round, club team not to try out for Little League and instead be put on a blind draft list so the other coaches wouldn't see their skill level. The coaches are accused of then choosing from the blind draft list, knowing the club players would be on it.
"Now they're telling us a week before games have started he has no team," Johnson said. She was told the team would be disbanded, with players assigned to different teams.
"Actions had to be taken, and unfortunately, this is the outcome," said Joshua Serdy, the Apache Junction Little League board president. He said they asked the coaches to resign.
"What it boils down to more than anything is a perception issue," Serdy said. "The public perception is that it was unfair. It was cheating."
"I've never told a kid not to try out," said Tad Lemongello, one of the coaches. He said there was no scheme, and it was just a coincidence so many club players landed on his team.
"I feel like I need to defend our kids who work so hard," he said.
Johnson said this whole ordeal has been a lesson in sportsmanship.
"Why are you making the kids suffer?" she asked.
The team met Friday night to decide what happens next. Johnson said most families have decided not to participate in Little League from here on out.
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