MANHATTAN BEACH (CBSLA.com) — A beloved high school baseball coach is under fire after a group of parents banded together, hired an attorney, and accused him of bullying their children.
Baseball genius? Tough taskmaster? Or bully? Depends on who you ask.
Cassidy Olson, the coach at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, has been suspended following allegations he bullies and verbally abuses his team.
CBS2 and KCAL9 reporter Kristine Lazar said despite the allegations the coach has a strong group of supporters. Said one parent, “I think he’s strict, I think he’s firm, I think he’s fair.”
Christian Carruthers, one of his players said, “He pushes you to do your best. He’s a good coach.” The player believed the disgruntled parents were upset their sons weren’t getting enough playing time. And he said he’s “never” felt bullied.
The coach’s detractors are also not keeping quiet.
Parent Francine Clebowicz says the coach made her son play on an injured knee and that his discipline goes too far. She says her son was disciplined for wanting to leave practice early to go to physical therapy. “Coach Olson stopped the practice because my son was leaving … and he screamed at my son. And the coach was holding a ball and he threw it into the batting cage while there was a player still there.”
Until the suspension is lifted — sometime at the end of March — the coach is unable to have contact with his players after 3 p.m.
An attorney for the parents, Joseph Di Monda said, “He’s not preparing a [Navy] Seals team. He’s preparing a high school baseball team.”
The coach told Lazar, “This has never been about mistreatment of kids, it’s about some disappointed parents.”
He denies all the allegations against him. “In this day and age,” he believes, “if you hold people accountable, sometimes you make enemies.”
Both sides will take their case to the school board next week, according to Lazar.