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Fired Lake Forest Coach: I Was Asked to Show Favoritism

Eddie Zappile said board president told him he didn't speak to parents appropriately.

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.

Beachbum August 21, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Why is the meeting scheduled so far out (in September)? Could it be because the board hopes that once school starts, interest in this swim team issue will fade? It won't. The board needs to be held accountable for their actions. A record of 8-2 speaks for itself. I have only heard accolades about Eddie and Chris from parents and swimmers alike.
Terrence Leonard August 21, 2012 at 11:58 AM
Just another example of parents crying that their kids don't get enough playing (in this case, swimming) time. Good for the coaches.
Jillian Mazzacano August 21, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Eddie Zappile has coached my daughter for 3 years. He is an OUTSTANDING coach, whose passion for swimming truly shines through in his coaching. My daughter looked forward to Lake League swimming every summer, not only because it was fun, but mostly because Eddie was the coach! In fact, in the 3 years that we have known Eddie, I have never heard a negative comment made about him. I've only heard positive things from swimmers and parents. This was Chris Zappile's first season coaching and my daughter only had positive things to say about him as well. The team had a great season(the best in years) and the coaches did a phenomenal job..... that certainly doesn't warrant being fired or losing bonuses! Why were they let go with no bonuses?... because they didn't go along with the favoritism plan?... so basically the coaches are punished for being honest and standing up for what is right. It's amazing that the actions of a few people can run such a great team into the ground. It's mostly sad for the kids, who enjoyed swimming on the Lake Forest Swim Team. Who will want to swim there now?
Bondmn August 21, 2012 at 04:28 PM
@Sue Toth –It seems you forgot the link to Mr. Brown’s full letter and only included what you deemed worthy… I am also sure you saw the contract that had the bonus clause in it, since you refer to it as “promised contractually”. Nice that you could not wait till the 9-14-12 meeting in order to print all sides. Had you waited, you might have all the facts as stated in Mr. Browns letter. Stirring the pot is more fun, but not for the kids.
Bondmn August 21, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Here's the whole letter in several parts wouldn't fit.. We as the Board of the Lake Forest Swim Team feel we must address the current state of confusion and disharmony that is occurring within our family. Please remember, our children enjoyed many individual and team successes this past season, and we are one swim team regardless of where we live. If you love the black and blue of the LFST you are welcomed to attend the meeting scheduled for Friday night8:00 PM September 14, 2012 at the LFYC. The recent unauthorized emails that have been circulating are opinions. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion and we respect that, but opinions should not be presented as facts. Your Board is a firm believer in the people that make up this team. 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. It is part of human nature, that the moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to any argument against our own opinions. Even though we don’t possess the proper information to reach a fair and reasonable decision often times we do not stop moving blindly forward regardless of whom it hurts. That is not the LFST way
Bondmn August 21, 2012 at 04:31 PM
At the core, we are dealing with several parties that have fundamentally different views points and none of them possess all the facts; not LFST Board, not the coaches, not the family’s and not LFYC Board. We all only know our own side. The only way to understand, and resolve any issue is to communicate. As things stand now, we are doing ourselves and our children a huge disservice. After 22 years of celebrating sportsmanship and neighborly behavior we should not allow the LFST family to be stained by opinion and innuendo. Most controversies soon end, if those engaged in them would first: accurately view the facts, and second adhere to common courtesy and kindness. We must ask once more, even though we can do nothing about it, we ask that you please not use the LFST email list for anything but LFST official business. These email addresses are personal and confidential property of each individual. The Board will make available to everyone the Financials & By-Laws of LFST approximately a week prior to the meeting via email. *ALL *current swim team families are welcome at the meeting including the former coaches. We would ask that you not bring children. We hope this email finds you all well and enjoying what is left of your summer. We look forward to our LFST Family meeting on Sept. 14 @ 8:00pm LFYC. James Brown Board President w/consent of Board
Bondmn August 21, 2012 at 05:02 PM
@ JS are you suggesting that the swim board and all its members were drinking at or during swim meets?? YOU are sadly miss informed and at the very best DEAD wrong. The word Slander comes to mind. You should think about your statement and then apologies. The swim board puts in more time effort than any of the parents in the LFST family. Without them and the Many board members before them the Team would not exist. It is people like you that should think long and hard about what they are doing. PS.. thank you to the Mr Brown and Board for saying nothing but good things in front of the kids and families.. you take you position and responsiblities seriously regardless of the Rock and Hard place other put you in...
Bondmn August 21, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Funny JS's statement magically disappeared... hope you removed it yourself better judgement prevailed...
Beachbum August 21, 2012 at 11:45 PM
@Bondmn Why the delay in getting the financials, the bylaws and the minutes of the Board meeting which resulted in the dismissal of the coaches? Only one week to review financials? Why, do they need to be recreated? Isn't Lake Forest Swim Team supposed to be non-profit group? If so, these records should be readily available for anyone who requests them. There are many questions this board needs to answer. To delay it for a month after the inquiries is unacceptable if not illegal.
waterrats August 22, 2012 at 04:15 AM
@ Beachbum are you a bookkeeper? accountant? CPA? 30 days to close the books, 45 days to get verified bank statements. If they can produce acturate statements for the close of the swim season by 9-14-12... good for them, very diligent, for volunteers if not impossible for CPA's... as for the rest of it, that uniformed in accounting, must assume you are uninformed in everything else.. PS do you know what a non-profit is? doesn't sound like it... PSS.. Are you a lawyer as well?? illegal?? Get a grip and some patience 9-14-1, coming unless you have some other agenda????
Beachbum August 22, 2012 at 01:05 PM
@waterrats I am the Treasurer for a non-profit.
HoboBob August 22, 2012 at 03:14 PM
I find it outstanding that the LFST board is so emotionally distraught they feel the need to back up their actions on the comments section of an Internet article. With all of the recent changes to the Lake Forest Yacht Club community you would think they wouldn't go any further out of their way to slander their already crumbling name. The installation of the new bar, or I'm sorry should I say "counter", does not ring true with the "family" atmosphere it once had. Along with the high strung leadership fueled by 6-Packs and Kegs it has in place now it is nothing more than a High School clique. They play favorites towards the "in" crowd and clearly tried to pass that on to the swim team but the coaches would not have it. I commend the coaches for standing up for what WAS and IS right and that soon the Lake Forest Yacht Club and it's affiliates will be brought to the negative light it so belligerently brought upon itself.
Bondmn August 22, 2012 at 04:49 PM
HoboBob, find it interesting that you assume that any of us who have commented on this page are Board Members.. I’m not, don’t think anyone else is either.. but there seems to be a lot of assuming going on. Question, how does most of your comment have anything to do with the Swim Team or it’s board?? You seem to be mixing apples and oranges.. I don’t want to assume anything but you seem upset at the LFYC board.. if you have a problem with them and the way things are done run for office and do something about it. Are you having a emotional time as well as you posted here to..
HoboBob August 22, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Bondmn, Seeing as how you joined the Patch the day after this article was published and have only posted on this article it seems as though you have a lot invested in the the LFYC/LFST if you feel the need to stand up for them. The people who run the LFST and LFYC are more or less the same with a few patrons missing. You ask why I combine the two entities? It is because one is just as corrupt as the other. Both are run by power craving "adults" who use the facilities offered by the Yacht Club to get away from and completely abandon their responsibilities, such as their children. Also Bondmn, If you know as much as you seem to know about the Yacht Club and its business you would know the level of stupidity and ill-regard displayed by board members of both the LFST and LFYC.
Bondmn August 22, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Hobo, again you seem very upset with both boards.. If you are a lake forest resident volunteer for their board if not a resident volunteer for the swim board.. try and change things for the better.
chassidy August 26, 2012 at 02:03 PM
I am not a board member and I volunteer for both causes, but reading this really upsets me. As Mr. Brown wrote there are two sides of the story, but all I have been hearing is one side of the story.It upsets me that the side of the story that bothered me the most is the one some of the parents heard.Those parents who are constantly trying to "protect" their children are the ones being bashed, whether they want to swim or whether they want to sit at the "new Bar" and have an ice cream. The stories I heard which were being passed around helped me understand why both Eddie and Chris did not get their bonuses and why they were fired.My daughter is still young, but if and when you hear the stories that some of us heard, you will be not bashing the "boards", but thanking them, especially if you have a young daughter on the team or live in the community. I personally thank the LFST for stepping up and doing something about the incidents which have been taking place. In these times we seem to turn the other cheek when we see and hear "stories" of kids doing drugs and having sexual intercourse. We hope it is not our kids and we "assume" someone else will take care of it. I love that the board stepped up and whether true or false, took care of it. Removed it from our "kids", all of our kids, lives.Do we believe, innocence until proven guilty or in protection, protection of our youth. I hope you all chose YOUR children, I know I choose mine.
chassidy August 26, 2012 at 02:11 PM
@ HoboBob since the LFYC board was brought up many times I thought I would comment as well. The community has not looked or felt better in years. The board has come together and brought the club to a new high. We enjoy going down to the Lake to have lunch at the "new Bar". My daughters enjoy their afternoons sitting and acting like little ladies while ordering and enjoying their lunch. We have never seen anyone belligerent or "drunk” during the day or at night. So I am not sure what I am missing. I have attended all swim meets and have not seen one drink out there on the beach or swim dock. You do know the LFYC has video cameras everywhere, why don't you ask them yourself to take a look at the drunks you are pointed your fingers at. I hope this is a lesson to everyone. I am also taken back about Board members negliecting their children, Again all the time I spend there, I have not seen this take place, as a matter of fact they are there with their children enjoying the community if not even more than most members. Also there are no people on both boards, I just looked it up. Be specific with that finger of yours!
Laura August 27, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Please remember, your children are on the internet and read all blogs and posts. Hope you can solve this matter FACE TO FACE like ADULTS. Whatever has happened, please remember who is important, our children. If you have a dispute, get together in person to resolve, not on the computer where your children can see everything going on or just invite them to the meeting, they will find out here and ask questions, and how will you answer them? Please act responsibly and with respect for all.
Sue Toth (Editor) August 27, 2012 at 06:37 PM
As the editor of Jefferson Patch, I cannot, nor will I, ever take sides in a dispute of this nature. I just want it to be made clear that I invited both sides to comment on this story. What you see in the article is what I received after repeated attempts to reach the parties involved.
MAR1026 August 29, 2012 at 02:55 AM
@ chassidy "The stories I heard which were being passed around helped me understand why both Eddie and Chris did not get their bonuses and why they were fired. My daughter is still young, but if and when you hear the stories that some of us heard, you will be not bashing the "boards", but thanking them, especially if you have a young daughter on the team or live in the community." You are making some serious accusations in your comments based on nothing but rumors. I'd like to leave you with one of my favorite quotes: "If you didn't see it with your own eyes or hear it with your own ears, don't invent it with your small mind & share it with your big mouth."
glenn desantis September 12, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Parents of swimmers from previous seasons should not be part of this meeting. Parents of coaches should not be part of this meeting. Your time as mine is past. LFST is a strong organization built for children of the area to learn how to swim competitively, be part of a team, improve personal best and most important - have fun. It is very very sad all this negitive energy is being spent. If parents are unhappy they must move on. I write this as a 15 yr past memebr of the team holding every board position. We have had good coaches, poor coaches, and everything in between. In the past I have with held bonus for specfic reasons, agreed within the board at the time. As President I have had to remove a parent and forbid them to return for the season. (Their spouse was on my board). Parents have felt their child was not swimming enough events, etc. The bottom line is the problems of today are not only for the 2012 team. Cool minds will prevail not a personal agenda. I would hope the parents will be reasonable, open minded and discuss a resolution. If the answer is not to your liking, move on. All the negitive comments and accusations are not needed. Our children learn from everything we do. Please keep their best interest at heart. Glenn De Santis
Swim Parent September 21, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Glen, I like alot of what you said! I have questions about a few points you made however. I think that if the majority is for something and you dont agree you will have to live with it. But this is after a votes been taken. Before the vote has been taken we have a responceability to listen to all sides. Do we not? I went to the meeting and there was mention of a board meeting about the coaches but none of the minutes for that meeting. I would also ask why you take the position about past members. Many people love this team and donate their time for nothing to help it. In the intrest of respect and appreation is it not proper to at least hear what they have to say. I am a parent of two children on this team and I kept out of all the name calling and accusations. After the meeting I came away with the feeling that there is alot that is not being said by the board. I still do not want to point fingers and jump up and down. However I would like the truth. You seem like a calmer head and a person who could help here. With your past knowelage and present desire for the truth to be told. I would ask this question as well. As parents and members of a team that is public are we not entilted to see all actions and movements of the people we elect to represent us? It is not my wish to put you on the spot but like I said you seem to have the best qualifications to help me clear this up. My desire here is not personal really just concern for the team and my childrens future here.

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