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Allegations of verbally abusive bullying by the VHS basketball coach against a Cardinal Mooney player
By Francesco Abbruzzino, The Scoop News
I was sent a text today by a concerned parent, revolving around the basketball coach at VHS.
It was communicated to me that there three parents that are upset enough to send emails/letters to the FHSAA, filing a bullying complaint against the VHS basketball coach. The allegations are that the coach used profanity, when he verbally abused a player on the VHS basketball team.
Apparently, the Cardinal Mooney player fouled a Venice player during their game and no foul was called by the referee. So, it is alleged that the VHS coach took it upon himself to let the player know what he thought about the foul via some standoff during the handshaking process at the end of the game.
The individual stated that letters were sent to the Sarasota County School Superintendent (Bowden) and AD (Dombrowski and Gallof), detailing the incident. Even though the alleged incident took place, both schools are denying that the incident took place, according to my contact.
Additionally, I was told that another parent has filed a bullying complaint with the FHSAA.
Below is an email chain that one sent by one of the parents that witnessed the incident and the schools response:
Date: February 12, 2019 at 6:54:13 PM EST
To: Gallof@sarasotacountyschools.net, Dombroski Peter <Peter.Dombroski@sarasotacountyschools.net>, Eric.Jackson@sarasotacountyschools.net, William.Marino@sarasotacountyschools.net, email@example.com
Subject: Fwd: Cardinal Mooney – Venice HS Boys Basketball Game
Good Afternoon To Everyone,
I have included multiple email chains below in order to bring everyone up to speed with the original concerns that I had which generated my first email from !/23/19 following a VHS vs. Cardinal Mooney Boy’s Basketball game.
I wanted to recount what I had witnessed at this event. The game had ended. There was a skirmish between players just before the game ended. Cardinal Moony had just scored, when the player who scored, Arguel Drotleff, was then pushed by a Venice player. No foul was called. The game ended. The hand shake after the game proceeded as usual. After the handshake, I watched as Coach Flynn took about 7 – 10 steps to go out of his way to stand right in front of Arguel Drotleff (aka “Get in his face”) and say to the player that if he had anything to say that he should just say it to him, the Coach. As the situation became more tense, in a few seconds Coach Flynn was restrained and brought away by Coach Martin and Coach Montgomery. During this conflict I had to actually shout at the Coach to tell him to get away because it looked as if he was ready to fight the player.
It was a scene that I have never seen before in youth, travel, and high school sports.
During all of this the Mooney player, Arguel Drotleff, showed exceptional restraint and sportsmanship.
I was sitting directly behind the Cardinal Mooney bench when this occurred which was about 10 – 15 feet away. The Mooney gym is much smaller than the gym at VHS. The gym is so small that spectators have to walk on to the court in order to find a space to sit in the bleachers.
If you want more specific details about this event, please let me know specifically what you need.
I have been informed by other parents that they witnessed the same events and that these events can be seen on the Hudl video of the game.
I have also heard from parents of Mooney students that they are surprised that Coach Flynn had not been relieved of his position at this time.
In the interim, since this event, it has been brought to my attention by other parents of players on the team, that they were concerned about inappropriate behavior and comments by Coach Flynn. Many of these comments had been directed specifically at my son, but I did not report these concerns initially for fear of retribution against my son. I am only recounting this now that several other parents on the team, independent of each other, have approached me about their concerns. This is concerning to me because it seems to indicate a recurring pattern of bad behavior and bad comments directed at many different students.
Specific comments have included:
“let’s go you bunch of queers”
“You’re a selfish brat prick”
“You’re an asshole”
“You’re a F_____g crack head”
“You’re a retard”
“You think you are better than you really are because your parents lied to you and told you that you were good. Your parents think you are going to play basketball for Duke, uh you’re not”
“Why does this kid think he is so good?” – stated to other players (Berating players in front of other players)
I am a former athlete from youth sports, high school, and college. I have had many coaches and I have seen many different coaching styles, but I think the behavior that I witnessed and the comments that have been retold to me seem to have crossed a line into the realm of inappropriateness and or abuse.
It is my opinion that this situation is more serious since it is just not a complaint of my own. Mr Marino and I have spoken at length about these issues. I have also been involved in conversations with the mother of Cyrus Lusk, who is a player that Coach Flynn recently kicked off of the team and stated that he did not want him near the gym or did not want to see him wearing any basketball gear (which was likely purchased by the player).
I am also including the email of xxxx, who is the father of xxxxx, who is the player from Cardinal Mooney who was assaulted by Coach Flynn. (Verbal assault not battery, but still a criminal offense)
Mr. Hxxxxk’s email is:
I have spoken with, and I have had conversations at length with Mr. xxxx about the events that occurred. He is not very happy about what happened to his son. If you wish to contact him via email to corroborate these events or get his comments regarding this matter please feel free to reach him via email.
I want to reiterate that I bring this matter to your attention only because the behavior that I witnessed was out of line with normal and acceptable patterns of behavior by a coach and a role model for high school students. I think it would be wise to thoroughly evaluate this pattern of behavior before anything more serious occurs. The coaches job should be to lead his players, teach his players, and encourage his players. In my opinion Coach Flynn has not set the proper example for these boys, and he has fostered an abusive environment which has discouraged and degraded and depressed his student-athletes.
I think there are many very qualified candidates out there who would love to be given this golden opportunity to lead the VHS Boys Basketball team. It should not be someone who is a parent of a player because that also creates too much of a conflict of interest and then resentment. I think the students, who work so hard at their sport, and the school deserve something better.
Please let me know if you have any further questions for me.
Thank you for your time and consideration for this matter.
If you have further information, other than what was provided to us by the AD at Cardinal Mooney, we look into these allegations. If you would be specific as to witnesses and what was alleged.
Athletic Director/Physical Education Teacher
This is anonymous
I had previously emailed you about an usual event regarding the boy’s basketball coach.
Your response to me was very prompt and thorough.
Recently several other parents of boys on the team have asked me questions about the behavior of the coach.
If you need any more information regarding this matter please let me know.
The date of the particular incident that I observed was 1/23/19 during the boys Basketball game at Cardinal Mooney.
Begin forwarded message:
Subject: Re: Cardinal Mooney – Venice HS Boys Basketball Game
Date: January 24, 2019 at 9:35:36 AM EST
To: Dombroski Peter <Peter.Dombroski@sarasotacountyschools.net>
Thank you for your follow up about this incident.
I appreciate the speed in which this was investigated, and for your rapid reply.
I just wanted to make sure that the events that I witnessed were addressed because it did not seem like appropriate behavior. I wanted to make sure that things like this do not happen again.
Thank you for your time.
Sent from my iPhone
On Jan 24, 2019, at 9:11 AM, Dombroski Peter <Peter.Dombroski@sarasotacountyschools.net> wrote:
We have been made aware of your concerns at last night’s Boys Basketball game involving our head coach and a student athlete at Cardinal Mooney High School. Please understand that we take this type of behavior you describe very seriously, and agree no coach at any school should conduct themselves in this manner. I have been in touch with the athletic director at Cardinal Mooney and asked him to conduct an investigation into your concern. Please see below email from Cardinal Mooney and their findings of what occurred. If you need to discuss this situation further please feel free to contact me.
Athletic Director/Physical Education Teacher
From: Bill Donivan <BDonivan@cmhs-sarasota.org>
Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2019 8:53 AM
To: Dombroski Peter <Peter.Dombroski@sarasotacountyschools.net>
Cc: Ben Hopper <BHopper@cmhs-sarasota.org>
Subject: FW: Cardinal Mooney – Venice HS Boys Basketball Game
External Email – Be Suspicious of Attachments, Links and Requests for Login Information ________________________________
I received this letter last night(Jan. 23) concerning an incident that allegedly occurred at our home boys basketball game versus Venice High School. After viewing the incident on our security cameras and meeting with the following supervisors, coaches, and players, we have concluded that the incident never occurred. Head Coach to Head Coach met after the hand shake, Venice Coach never put hands on our player.
Met with the following:
Game Manager on site
Administrator on Duty parking lot
Resource Officer on site
Varsity Head Coach on site
Assistant Varsity Head Coach on site
The player involved on site
Questions: Call me on my cell 941-685-9220
Cardinal Mooney High School
Sent: Wednesday, January 23, 2019 10:12 PM
To: Bill Donivan <BDonivan@cmhs-sarasota.org>
Cc: Pete.Dombroski@sarasotacounty; Eric.Jackson@sarasotacountyschools.netschools.net
Subject: Cardinal Mooney – Venice HS Boys Basketball Game
I am anonymous, and I am a physician in the Venice area. I am also the parent of a student who plays for the Venice HS Boys Basketball team.
On January 23, 2019 Cardinal Mooney Varsity Boys Basketball defeated Venice HS.
I wanted to apologize for the actions of the Head Coach of the Venice HS team, who after the handshake at the end of the game, walked across the court and up into the face of a Cardinal Mooney player and put his hands on the player. Yes, it is hard to believe what I am describing actually happened, but our coach walked up to a Mooney player and acted as if he was trying to instigate a fight. This included putting his hands on the players chest.
In my many years of playing and attending high school sports I have never seen behavior like this before.
I wanted to apologize for this inappropriate behavior, and I do not want this to be a poor reflection on the outstanding quality of the student – athletes on this team, and at Venice High School in general.
I understand that this type of behavior should not be tolerated by a coach or player or anyone. I hope this incident will be reported or noticed by the appropriate administrators at the school or FHSAAA.
It is important that our students be led by good role models who show the proper example. It should be noted that the Cardinal Mooney player, Arguel Drotleff, and the Head Coach both exhibited the most exceptional character and restraint and professionalism during this unfortunate incident.
Thank you for your time to listen to my apology and to listen to the high compliments that I have for your student athlete and coaching staff.