The parents of high school athletes are often known to be a passionate bunch.
And that seems especially true for the mother of one Missouri high school student, who tried out for the varsity soccer team at Ladue Horton Watkins High School in St. Louis — and didn’t make the cut.
The teen’s mother, who is unidentified in the filing, is suing in federal court against school officials after she learned her son wouldn’t be a member of either the varsity or junior varsity team during this fall season. The lawsuit alleges both age and gender discrimination in the decision to keep her son from playing.
The student, a junior at the high school, tried out for the varsity team in August 2018, but didn’t make the team despite being “on the bubble,” according to the lawsuit. Yet even though he was a member of the junior varsity team last season — and scored five goals — the lawsuit says the student wasn’t allowed to rejoin the junior varsity team, either, because it is reserved for just freshman and sophomores.
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The lawsuit argues that rule, which prevents male players who are juniors or seniors from playing on the junior varsity team, amounts to discrimination against the student because of his gender and grade level.
As reported by Fox2, a judge in the case is expected to make a decision on Monday. The ruling could let the teen back on the junior varsity squad. The boy’s mother said he will face “irreparable harm” if he misses the entirety of the season, which ends this month.
Dave Aronberg, who coaches the soccer team, told the boy’s parents that “this year was the hardest year to make varsity of any year that I’ve coached” because 40 players were vying for just 24 spots, the lawsuit says.
He praised the student’s abilities, according to the lawsuit, but added that the teen had “a few holes in his game including technical ability and game decision making that put him behind a number of kids.”
The coach later testified in court that the boy wasn’t good enough to play for the junior varsity team, and he made the comments to be supportive, according to Fox2.
But the lawsuit alleges that when later asked about his decision, Aronberg told the teen’s stepfather that he opted to have fewer juniors on the varsity team because the parents of juniors had complained about the amount of playing time their kids had last year.
The coach said he didn’t want to deal with that “aggravation” this year, according to the lawsuit, which also accuses Aronberg of favoring the athletes who paid to attend his summer training camp.
The boy’s parents tried to argue their case to officials after talking to Aronberg. But as noted in the lawsuit, the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education denied a complaint about the ordeal, while Superintendent Dr. Donna Jahnke suggested that the juniors cut from the team didn’t have the “skill level” necessary to start.
In an interview with The New York Post, the teen’s lawyer said that he analyzed performance ratings and found that some of the athletes who made the varsity team lack the skill that his client does.