Under the watchful eye of an off-duty police officer, approximately 120 parents, coaches and trainers involved with the Green White Soccer Club's youth division gathered at the Mount Prospect Park District's RecPlex facility Wednesday night to hear why the president and secretary/treasurer of their organization were abruptly asked to resign over the weekend.
An email notice of the action was sent out Saturday to the 500 parents involved in the soccer club, saying that the husband-and-wife president and secretary/treasurer, Gregory and Christy LaCost, had been removed from their positions several weeks early because of perceived improprieties.
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"We made this extraordinary move when we learned that at the last youth division board meeting, they had voted to hand over the Green White Youth Recreation League to the Mount Prospect Park District without any review or discussion with the Green White senior board," Todd Schneider, vice president of the senior Green White board, told those present.
The vote seemed odd to Schneider and other members of the senior board, he said, until they learned that certain members of the youth division board had reportedly been helping to form a competing soccer club, the Chicago Fire Junior, nearby.
Schneider hypothesized that the departing board members proposed to turn over the recreational league to the park district in order to "curry favor" with the park district and subsequently secure playing fields for the new club.
The youth division board had also passed a resolution to purchase soccer goals at an estimated cost of $7,000 and donate them to the Mount Prospect Park District, Schneider said.
This amounted to using Green White assets to ingratiate themselves with the park district for the benefit of the new club, he said, but others said that such "thank you" gifts from youth sports clubs to the park districts that house them are not at all unusual. The goals were never purchased.
Schneider also said that there were reports that the board members and others in the organization had recently been recruiting Green White players and coaches for the new club in violation of the bylaws of the two state bodies governing soccer.
"We felt drastic action was necessary … to put this whole episode behind us," Schneider told the parents, one of whom questioned why a meeting wasn't held before the LaCosts being removed. They were replaced by people who had already been elected but who hadn't yet taken office.
The LaCosts could not be reached for comment Thursday. But parent and assistant coach Dean Walsh said he was appalled by the senior board's attempt to "smear" the former youth division president and secretary/treasurer, questioning how turning operations over to the park district or donating goal posts would curry favor for a new club.
"Everyone here is a volunteer and means well," Walsh said. "This is such a shame because this is a wonderful couple who has volunteered with Green White for 11 years, grown the club and they both have the best interests of children at heart. But, obviously something made them want to leave."
Bob Ancona, athletic program manager for the Mount Prospect Park District, said that while he has heard talk of the new club, he was never approached about renting fields to it, and he hadn't been told of the plan to buy and donate goals to the district.