Energy drink scandal exposes soccer club concerns

Ottawa County

HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — Tensions ran high inside a Michigan Fire Juniors soccer club meeting after parents learned one of the coaches had slipped energy drinks into kids’ water bottles.

It was standing room only at a two-hour meeting for parents in Hudsonville Wednesday night.

Some parents told 24 Hour News 8 that the coach, who is reportedly no longer with the club, put 5-hour Energy drinks into athletes’ water bottles. The kids were reportedly all between the ages of 8 and 10.

But that incident seemed like the tip of the iceberg in terms of parents’ concerns. During a public discussion period, they aired accusations of corruption, scare tactics and misuse of money. Most pointed fingers at the board.

“Right now it feels like they have hid a lot of things and there’s a lot of finger-pointing and it’s really sad and unfortunate,” said one mother who has two kids playing with the club.

Another mom who spoke with 24 Hour News 8 asked that her face be hidden and her name not used because she had previously been threatened after speaking out about the board.

“This club is built on great coaches and players and there’s a few rotten eggs and they need to go away,” she told 24 Hour News 8.

Parents demanded all the board members step down over the energy drink scandal. They claimed that some members knew before parents were contacted.

“It’s wrong and there could be complications,” one mother said, “and they’re risking these children’s lives if there was a complication.”

The overflowing room of mainly upset parents became more concerned when one person spoke during public input about what former tax returns revealed. He said a 2016 tax return shows at least two board members were paid $20,000 each by the club. Other years, he said, revealed similar findings. Parents questioned if that poses a conflict of interest.

It seems unlikely that the board will be ousted anytime soon. An attorney hired by Michigan Fire Juniors explained that board members elect and appoint themselves. It’s not up to parents, according to current club bylaws.

Some parents said they don’t need the board to all necessarily step down, but they would like to see changes to the bylaws.

The team is a youth club affiliate of Chicago Fire Soccer Club. That team also sent a representative to listen at the meeting.

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