Elmont residents are openly asking questions about the way young people are being handled and treated by some members of the coaching staff of the Elmont Cardinals Football Club. Several incidents, starting last season and now moving into the current season, have resulted in officers of the 5th precinct being consulted by parents for guidelines for proper interaction with youth.
The incidents being discussed by parents are centered around coach-athlete and parent-athlete confrontations that are identified as “an out of control anger drive.” Football, being a physical sport to begin with, has an element of aggressive action to it. However, observers to the Cardinals over the past month are growing more concerned by the apparent nature of the coaching.
The President of the organization, Mr. Jon Johnson, was approached by parents regarding the incidents. It is reported that Mr. Johnson said on at least one occasion, “it’s my organization, I can do what I want.”
The Cardinals currently run practices at the Dutch Broadway School in Elmont. They play their games at the Elmont Memorial High School and Sewanhaka High School football fields. The incidents being looked at involve practice sessions.
Last season, one parent turned in his son’s football uniform and noted, “this should be a positive experience for these kids. It’s not. It upsets me that my son had to go through this and I decided to end the season early. The President didn’t want to hear anything and all he cares about is the little kingdom he rules.”
Elmont.org can report exclusively that the Board of Directors of the Cardinal organization does infrequent background checks on the coaches, some argue they do no background checks. In fact, with raised awareness of coach-athlete appropriate contact, many youth athletic leagues do Megan’s Law checks of the coaching staff and Board of Directors. “It should also be noted that just about all youth organizations do indeed go through a vetting process. For example, Gateway Youth Outreach, which services several hundred youth, goes through such a check of all personnel including youth counselors. Any counselors who do interact with young people go through a rigorous look and until they are cleared, they are not allowed to work with youth.
“It’s pretty hilarious, the President makes the coaches do CPR training but they don’t check their criminal backgrounds. That’s just great,” said a parent at a recent football game.
"When I heard that they don’t check these coaches, I was very disturbed,” said a Cardinal parent who wished to not be identified. “I have seen a lot of yelling and cursing at these kids over the past couple of years. The music they play at the field, sometimes, is really inappropriate for kids. It’s a culture at the Cardinals and that is a big reason why people shun them. My son loves football and he can’t play anywhere else. I’m stuck, so I have to tolerate it. But I don’t approve it.”
The biggest complaint being lodged by residents is the residency of many of the players in the Club. A great percentage of the players are from outside the Elmont area. One of the most egregious incidents took the form of a member of a Board of Directors who had enrolled her son at Dutch Broadway School when in fact the youth and the Board member herself lived in Far Rockaway. After a full investigation by local school authorities, the youth was asked to leave the district. Not satisfied, the parent then involved the President of the Cardinals who made a personal plea to the District and was over-ruled by authorities.
“It’s unacceptable that our schools let this happen and only react when the infraction is over the top. More importantly, it was arrogant of the Cardinal Board to try to overrule this outrage. This parent, aided by the Cardinals, was stealing taxpayer monies. The child should go to school in Queens where he lived. The fact that the President of the Cardinals went to the School District to try to overturn it is outrageous. He should apologize to the community,” said a school district PTA member with intimate knowledge of the situation. It should be noted that the parent was shown surveillance gathered by school investigators and that the evidence of the case was irrefutable.
It can also be reported that a vast majority of the coaching staff of the Cardinals are not Elmont or North Valley Stream residents. “I’m very surprised that our schools tolerate this kind of mess. You can’t play ball at Dutch Broadway on the courts because the football takes all the space and these are people who don’t even live in Elmont! What’s happening to our community?” said a Dutch Broadway parent.
Some parents noted to Elmont.org that there are some good elements to the Cardinals. “If you want to know the truth, the issue is the leadership. The President has become very arrogant and loves to dictate things. There are some really good coaches who care about kids. There are quite a few Elmont kids who play football here and it’s a shame that they have to put up with nonsense,” said a parent surveying the practice. “I think what needs to happen is if you don’t have a child playing football, you shouldn’t be on the board. And the Board needs to do a little more listening and stop with the fancy jackets and shirts and be real. Right now they’re not. And the kids are the ones who suffer.”