Parents vs. Coaches

PARENTS V. COACHES: Major Lawsuit Pits Old-School Coach Against Today’s Active Sports Parents


A major lawsuit was filed just recently which, to me, seems like a kind of “perfect storm” between HS parents and a HS coach.

Now,I don’t have all the details in this case yet, but on paper, this sounds like a classic confrontation between an “old school” tough HS football coach whose in-your-face disciplinarian ways are being challenged by some of the parents of his players.


Here are the basics. Rich Ward is the head football coach at Marlboro HS, which is up the Hudson River. He is admittedly tough with his players, but he has also won. In four seasons, the team has gone 40-5, and has won three straight Section 9 Class B championships.


But now a lawsuit contends that during 2011 and 2012, Ward told his players to physically injure some opposing players (such as break their fingers, target their knees, and so on) and an one occasion, that he wanted to see their opponents go out in “body bags.”


There are also claims of Coach Ward, in a playoff game last year, of grabbing his QB by the facemask, jerking the kid’s face and neck when doing so and screaming at him. The QB in question has declined comment.


There are also claims of heavy-duty profanity, and even maybe evidence of a racial slur.


Now, the lawsuit was filed by a former Marlboro HS coach, as well as some parents of some former Marlboro players. Named in the suit were Coach Ward, as well as the Marlboro Superintendent and the School District.


The school superintendent says that these allegations have been checked out numerous times, and are all unfounded. In short, they are fully behind the coach.  

In light of the Mike Rice case at Rutgers, as we have discussed on this show, more and more coaches are being put under the microscope. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

In fact, I would argue that 10-20 years ago, old school coaching tactics like the ones I just described – well, no parent would have ever dreamed of filing a lawsuit.


But clearly times are changing. We’ll have to wait and see how this Marlboro case plays out, but certainly if Coach Ward and his school district lose, it will be most interesting to see what kind of ripple effect that decision would have on coaches nationwide.

  • ges1955

    Interesting article. I remember my son telling me that he was playing a high school soccer game, he lined up in front of the goal on a corner kick, and, as soon as the ball was kicked, the player behind him punched him in the kidney. That is taught behavior. There are some real sicko coaches out there.

    Another aspect of this is mental abuse. I have witnessed first hand where a coach acts one way in front of the parents, and completely different in the confines of the locker room and time-out huddles. You could always tell what was happening when you saw the kids leave the time out with their heads and shoulders down. This type of coach is really dangerous because he is “grabbing the face mask” behind a smoke screen. By the way, the coach in question was brought in by the long-time AD of the school district. AD’s can be just as bad as the coaches.

    • That is absurd! Regardless of who the coach is, he doesn’t act like that. This builds mental illness to youth and for no reason, they act the same as what the coach is showing them.

      I had my eye on coach last summer as he was scolding a kid doing tee ball drills early that summer. I think that kid wasn’t able to deliver what the coach wants, tho the coach never laid hands on the kid, I think verbal abuse is heavier than physical.

  • jonhiras