COLES COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — To area athletes, most teams feel like family. But, one team will have to get new coaches.
Coaches for the Alpha Bear Special Olympics team had their licenses revoked after some pretty shocking accusations. Monday, some of the athletes gathered to protest the decision.
A three-page letter from the Special Olympics Board went to Les and Lisa Todd, of Charleston. The list of accusations against the coaches goes all the way back to 2016. It ends with removing their ability to be coaches.
“Special Olympics made a decision regarding the volunteer status of two of our volunteers associate with the Alpha Bears.”
The couple is accused of breaking the rules coaches are expected to follow. Among them, not treating all athletes the same by inviting only certain players to their home and giving only some birthday gifts.
Les Todd was called into question about how he interacts with female athletes while they’re stretching. Lisa Todd is accused of making athletes on other teams cry. The letter states she was overheard saying an athlete was too “explicit r-word, to get their own shoes.”
But, Alpha Bears athletes and parents were far from happy with the decision to remove their coaches.
“I believe that our coaches are innocent.”
Those who have spent time with the Todds say they are the most caring people.
“There were a couple of times where I was on the side of the road with a flat tire. My coach was there in five minutes to help me.”
Lisa Todd says she’s not upset with Special Olympics for making the decision, and she doesn’t regret being a family for her athletes.
“Maybe we tried to hard to make sure these kids had a family environment outside of Special Olympics too and maybe that was wrong.”
The Todds’ son is on the Alpha Bears team and Special Olympics has made it clear he is still able to compete. Special Olympics says it’s working hard to make sure the team doesn’t have to split up. Some Alpha Bears parents are stepping up to make sure their kids get to stay with their teammates.