Michelle Capellupo filed a lawsuit against Webster (N.Y.) Thomas High because her son Stephen never played varsity hockey, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reported.
Stephen Capellupo actually made the varsity as a freshman in 2008-09, but was demoted to junior varsity for academic reasons, the lawsuit claims. A foot injury cost Capellupo a varsity spot as a sophomore, and when the family's demands for answers all the way up the school district's hierarchy each came up empty, the coach allegedly retaliated by keeping Capellupo at the JV level as a junior and senior from 2010-12, the suit said.
Evans is currently coaching a team run by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes while on a one-year sabbatical from the Webster Thomas hockey program he founded 11 years ago and led to a state title in 2008, the Democrat & Chronicle said.
Some of the 53 bulleted items listed on the complaint must be read to be believed.
- 22. Concerned about the reason Capellupo had been demoted to the junior varsity team, Capellupo's parents asked if they could have a meeting with Evans, a notoriously vindictive and unapproachable coach.
- 25. Capellupo began attending both JV and varsity hockey practices and dominated at the JV level, leading his team in several statistical categories, including goals scored.
- 37. Superintendent Adele Bovard promised to "sit down" with Evans and review Plaintiff's concerns over Evans' handling of the team and Capellupo's exclusion from varsity hockey, in spite of his advanced skills.
- 41. When Capellupo asked for a reason, coach Evans said, “We see you from the outside in,” implying Capellupo was an outsider to the program in spite of practicing with the varsity team for the majority of his Webster hockey career, sometimes attending both JV and varsity practices in the same day.
- 43. Capellupo was cut from the varsity team by Evans in retaliation for his good faith complaints to the superintendent, athletic director and even Evans himself, regarding the concerns about the manner in which their son was being treated.
- 44. Evans' failure to select Plaintiff for the varsity team was an abuse of Evans' power that had a deleterious effect on Capellupo's future as a hockey player.
The Capellupos are seeking damages against both Evans and the school district "in an amount to be determined at the trial." Neither Michelle Capellupo nor the lawyer who filed the suit on her behalf, Christina Agola, commented to the Democrat & Chronicle.
Meanwhile, Agola was suspended from legal practice in September, according to the report, and the school district plans to file a motion for dismissal.
If this isn't the first time that a parent has filed a suit because her son was forced to play on a junior varsity team, it's at least the first one that Prep Rally has ever seen. The lawsuit calls into question the larger dynamics of coaches getting to independently choose the make up of their own squads, not to mention who gets to evaluate talent.
Only time will tell if the Capellupos are successful in their attempts to receive compensatory damages. If they do, high school coaches everywhere might want to reconsider whether the stipends and occasional glory they receive are really worth all the headache that can come from one jilted teen.
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey
- junior varsity