A group of four California high school football coaches were dismissed en masse after the school they served learned that they had participated in a rather normal activity for coaches: they advised their players about safe nutritional techniques.
As reported by the Pasadena Star-News, Alhambra (Cal.) High School fired its entire football staff after it learned that new head coach Chuck Leonardis and his assistants had recommended a set of nutritional supplements to seven players who approached them for help about which supplements to purchase.
The Star-News reported that the supplement Leonardis and his cohorts recommended the players take included low levels of Creatine, a well-known naturally produced amino acid that has generated controversy for its muscle building effects in athletes, particularly youth.
Leonardis claims that he and his staff were upfront about the inclusion of small amounts of Creatine in the supplement they recommended, and that they insisted all players clear use of the supplements with their parents before using them.
Unfortunately, that apparently didn’t happen, with the parents of at least one teen angrily contacting school officials about the coaching staff’s recommendation, leading to immediate actions that eventually led to the dismissal of Leonardis and his staff.
"They were instantly blaming us and threatening us with a suspension," Leonardis told the Star-News. "We were not breaking school rules. We wanted to stay. We brought it to their attention. We didn't hide anything."
In fact, Leonardis insists that the supplement he and his staff recommended included they lowest amount of protein available on the open market, all aimed at keeping the players as safe as possible.
Now, because of that recommendation, a coach who was hired just months earlier and had rapidly gained the trust of his players has been jettisoned, leaving a strong Southern California program roughly a month before the start of fall practices to identify and install a new coaching staff, much to the dismay of many players themselves.
"This guy cares for the kids and now they're destroyed," said a parent whose son is on the team, but did not want to be identified. "My son started crying last night. He said, `Dad, they care about us and are teaching us the game.' These are coaches who are not trying to harm kids."