Director for Vernon Hills volleyball club suspended for racial remark
A director at a Vernon Hills-based youth volleyball club has been suspended by one of the sport's national associations after using racially insensitive language at an event in south suburban Bedford Park in late October.
In two separate emails obtained by the Daily Herald, Keith Kujawa, boys director and recruiting coordinator for the Adversity Volleyball Club, apologized for a racial reference to the Deerfield-based Chicago Bounce club, which has five Asian American athletes on its roster.
The incident occurred after the Adversity team lost to the Chicago Bounce on Oct. 24 during The Points Series league play.
In one of the emails labeled "Adversity Apology," a sender using Kujawa's email address wrote to unidentified parents: "After we lost the match to a rival club, I made comments in regards to the ethnicity of the other team. This is not verbatim, but it was 'who cares that you lost to little Asia.' In no way did I intend this comment to be racist, and it was wrong."
The Junior Volleyball Association, a national trade association for youth volleyball club directors, responded by suspending Kujawa from participation in any JVA-insured event or practices through the end of April.
The JVA also ordered Kujawa to complete a four-part JVA Inclusion and Belonging Series, according to JVA Executive Director Jenny Hahn.
USA Volleyball, the sport's Colorado-based national governing body, also is investigating.
"USA Volleyball takes allegations of this nature extremely seriously," a spokeswoman said.
Kujawa, who has been associated with club volleyball for 20 years, did not make himself available for comment, but his attorney Danielle D'Ambrose issued a statement on his behalf.
"Keith is sincerely apologetic for making an insensitive, offhand comment that referenced the ethnicity of players on an opposing team at a recent tournament," the statement read. "Keith immediately accepted responsibility for his actions, and he personally apologized to everyone involved in the situation ... The remark does not reflect the values held by Keith and Adversity Volleyball Club, and they will continue to respect the sanctions imposed by the sport's governing bodies.
"Adversity Volleyball Club believes in learning from one's mistakes and growing from them. Therefore, the club is addressing the situation internally and has engaged outside resources to assist its leadership as it provides organization-wide training and implements new policies to promote a climate in which everyone feels welcome and respected."