Civil suits filed against Waldorf Youth Sports
Allege unsafe playing conditions, retaliation against members
The mother of a Waldorf boy is suing Waldorf Youth Sports and its managing board for allegedly not performing background checks, not providing required financial information and providing children with used, unsafe and unsanitary equipment, as well as changing the nonprofit’s bylaws to prevent changes in its current leadership.
“We’re trying to shed some light on this dilemma, because they’re
putting our children in danger,” said Keisha Matos-Joaquin of Waldorf, the parent who filed the lawsuit.
A separate lawsuit was filed by William Drakeford, a former coach for WYS.
WYS, or Waldorf Wildcats, fields basketball, baseball, cheerleading, football and track programs.
The civil suits were filed last week in Charles County Circuit Court against the 43-yearold youth sports organization, its president, secretary, treasurer, vice president and sales executive.
Richard Cowans, president of the WYS, denied the claims in the suits but declined to comment further, because the case is pending litigation.
The lawsuits contend the organization did not perform background checks on its volunteers, as required by the Calvert County Parks and Recreation Department, the Southern Maryland Youth Athletic Conference and its own bylaws.
The suits say several other coaches were never asked to submit to a background check, despite being willing to do so.
“What kind of people do we have in our organization?” Matos-Joaquin said. “Without the background checks, we don’t know.”
The suit alleges that the lack of mandated background checks is endangering children as “...it is unknown if any of the coaches have a criminal record that would disqualify them from coaching.”
Drakeford said he and the coaches he worked with were never asked to fill out any paperwork for background checks.
“They didn’t check me, they didn’t check my coaches, anybody,” Drakeford said. “That’s just a no-brainer; you’ve got to have that.”
The suit also contends that Richard Cowans, WYS president, has engaged in physical and verbal assaults both on and off the playing field.
According to the suit, in 2016, Cowans engaged in a verbal altercation with another coach, yelling and using foul language in front of children.
“He got into an argument in front of all of our boys, right before they went on the field,” said Dazzlin Slaughter, who has two children in the WYS. Slaughter said her son witnessed the display.
Matos-Joaquin said that in prior years, team members received new uniforms with payment of their dues, but that in 2016, they received unclean, ripped uniforms and broken, faulty helmets. Parents were required to do their own sanitation of uniforms and equipment, according to the lawsuit.
“We received dirty, old ripped uniforms,” Matos-Joaquin said. “Some of the items we were supposed to receive we didn’t receive at all.”
The suit further alleges that the defendants changed the organization’s bylaws this year, adding a requirement that only those who have served at least two years on the board of directors may run for president, vice president or secretary and removing a requirement that relatives not hold similar positions on the board, as well as a requirement that the president not also serve as a head coach.
“They’re new; they came in, and they started changing the bylaws,” Drakeford said. “This guy [Cowans] has made this his personal toy.”
Drakeford, who has been coaching for WYS for more than three years, said that when he tried to bring parents’ concerns to the board, he was let go as a coach in the middle of his team’s baseball season. Drakeford said he was never given an explanation for the firing.
“For Coach Will to be removed the way he was, it was just shocking,” said Thomas Jeffers, a coach who had one child in the organization.
Jeffers said he initially didn’t want to get involved with board politics, but that things seem to be getting out of control.
“It seems to be a house of cards on fire,” Jeffers said. “It’s a mess.”
Jeffers said that when he and other parents tried to get answers from the board, they were called names. Jeffers filed a temporary restraining order against the board this week.
“I can’t have my son go back to that organization where I’m not even comfortable being part of that organization,” Jeffers said.
Matos-Joaquin said that when she requested information from the board, her son’s membership in WYS was terminated and her membership fee was refunded. She said other parents who requested information received the same response.
“Instead of answering our questions, they kicked us out of the organization,” Matos-Joaquin said.
Matos-Joaquin said the organization has not provided required financial information, leaving parents unsure where their membership dues are going.
The suits are seeking injunctive relief declaring that board actions this year are null and void, restoration of memberships, removal of current board members, submission of required background checks, documentation of the organization’s finances, including fundraising revenue, bank statements and receipts and safety certification of all WYS football helmets.
The suit is also seeking compensatory damages and reimbursement of court fees.
“It’s just been a lot of abuse of power endangering children, a lot of funny business, which you shouldn’t have when you’re dealing with children,” Drakeford said.