One of two brothers who coached the Lake Forest swim team claims the pair was fired after the team president accused them of inappropriate interactions with parents and requested they show favoritism for swimmers who resided in Lake Forest.
Eddie Zappile said after the team’s season-ending banquet on Aug. 11, he and his brother, Chris Zappile, were asked to remain after everyone else left.
“(Lake Forest swim team president) Jim Brown asked me for meet sheets, which I contend are my property, not the team’s,” Eddie Zappile said. “He was holding our paychecks and said he wouldn’t give them to us until we gave him the sheets.”
Eddie Zappile said he gave Brown five meet sheets. At that point, he said, Brown handed the two brothers their checks and told them they were terminated and not welcome back next season.
Brown has not addressed the alleged firing directly with Patch, but sent the following via email to the swim team parents and to Patch with an invitation to a swim team board meeting on Sept. 14:
“When given the facts, we know you will understand the actions the Board has taken and feel they were in everyone’s best interest. The point to the September 14, 2012 at the LFYC meeting is to bring you the real facts.”
Members of the swim team board have declined to comment on what actions were taken.
When Eddie and Chris Zappile opened their final paychecks, Eddie said the bonuses they claimed they’d been promised contractually were not included.
“I asked Jim Brown why I was fired and why I didn’t get a bonus,” Eddie Zappile said. “He didn’t answer us about the bonus. He told me that I’m not a capable coach and that I didn’t talk to parents appropriately, and that’s why I was being let go. That was all he said.”
Eddie Zappile also said Brown had asked him several times during the season to give Lake Forest resident swimmers on the team precedence over other swimmers. Eddie Zappile said he refused to honor that request.
“The Lake Forest swim team is not just for Lake Forest residents, which is stated in the swim team handbook,” Eddie Zappile said. “It is open to anyone, and I refused to swim Lake Forest residents over others for that reason.”
Chris Zappile said he agreed with all of the statements his brother Eddie has made, adding that based on feedback throughout the season, he didn't understand why the firing occurred.
"Several times throughout the season, Mr. Brown was at meets, telling us what a great job we were doing and how well all the swimmers were doing," he said. "We also have all the records with how much the swimmers' times have improved over the season. I just don't get why they did this to us."
The team ended the season with a record of 8-2.
The Lake Forest Yacht Club has declined further comment after offering the following statement:
“The LFYC Board has made it clear that they are not getting involved with the swim team’s affairs. Please only direct your comments and questions to the Lake Forest Swim team board.”
Diane Hyland, the office manager for the Lake Forest Yacht Club, is listed as the treasurer of the Lake Forest Swim Team. She also has not responded to requests for comment.