Fired Lake Forest Coach: I Wasn't Verbally Abusive
Swim club board accuses former coaches of being 'immature' and 'irresponsible,' parent says.
Fired Lake Forest swim team coach Eddie Zappile, 22 and Louis Pessolano, 19, who was not fired, said they were not verbally abusive to swimmers on the team, contrary to what was allegedly said about them in a meeting Friday night of the Lake Forest swim team board and parents of children on the team in 2012.
The meeting was originally scheduled to include “anyone who loves the black and blue of the LFST. All current swim team families are welcome at the meeting, including former coaches,” according to an email from Jim Brown, swim team board president.
However, a subsequent email from swim team treasurer Diane Hyland said the meeting would discuss “issues that occurred during this past swim season” and would be “for current 2012 LFST families only and will not be a public meeting.”
“First we were invited, then we were uninvited,” Eddie Zappile said. “That, to me, is suspicious.”
Zappile's brother, Chris, 20, was also fired. He is away at college and could not be reached for comment following Friday's meeting.
According to parents who attended the meeting, the firing of the coaches was discussed.
“They [the board] said the coaches were fired because they were immature, irresponsible and verbally abusive to swimmers,” said Michelle Terpstra, who has a son on the team.
Other parents supported Terpstra's claims but declined to comment on the record for this story.
Eddie Zappile said the claims aren't true.
“I would like to talk to any parent or any child who thought I was abusive,” he said. “In fact, I’d be happy to meet with any of the parents and kids at any time.”
“I just want the opportunity to defend myself,” Pessolano said. “We treated every kid on that team with respect. We did everything that was expected of us, and all we were ever told, by parents and Mr. Brown, is how good we were doing.”
Meeting attendees also said the board claimed the coaching staff was fired because they threatened to quit.
“It’s true that I told the board that I was unsatisfied with the way I was being treated and the way the season was going, and that I wanted to move the team to a different place to get away from the unhealthy environment at Lake Forest,” Zappile said. “But I didn’t quit. I gave the board the opportunity to do something to change the situation. Instead, they fired me.”
Repeated attempts to reach board president Brown, treasurer Hyland, board member Paul Sabia and Lake Forest Commodore Ray Calogero were mostly unsuccessful.
“I won’t be replying to this, friendly or otherwise,” Brown said in response to an email from Patch.
Now, Zappile’s future is uncertain. He is looking to start a new team, and is currently looking for a place to call home.
“I have families that will come with me, I just need to find a place,” he said.