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Mira Costa Varsity Baseball Coach's Duties Restricted

Cassidy Olson's coaching has been limited to one period following allegations that players were subjected to verbal abuse and bullying.

Mira Costa Varsity Baseball Coach Cassidy Olson has been suspended until March 25, the result of an investigation into allegations that he subjected his players to verbal abuse and bullying.

After receiving complaints from parents of current and former players, Mira Costa administrators and staff, Principal Dr. Ben Dale, Vice Principal Ian Drummond, Athletic Director Don Morrow and assistant coaches from the baseball program, conducted interviews with each baseball team member. 

In a letter last year addressed to parents, Dale wrote: “We have concluded our review of the baseball program and wanted to inform you that Coach Olson’s coaching activities will be restricted for the first half of the upcoming baseball season. From now through March 24th, Coach Olson will coach during 6th period only but will not be present at scrimmages, games, tournaments or any other team activities that take place outside of the regular school day. On March 25th he will return to his full coaching duties. I appreciate all of your support and cooperation during this period and look forward to continuing our strong baseball program.”

In the meantime, the program is in a holding pattern, with all fall league games cancelled until the restriction is over and Coach Olson reinstated.

“Unfortunately, I feel that restricting my coaching duties for half the year is only going to hurt the players, but I understand the position the district is in when parents threaten litigation,” Olson said.

Olson, who is also a teacher, continues to instruct his classes.

Attorney Joseph Di Monda represents six parents who hired his law firm, Christopher Angelo & Joseph Di Monda of Manhattan Beach, to represent them in a case against the coach after parents felt nothing was being done by the administration to address their concerns.

The parents previously enlisted the help of retired Judge Joyce Fahey, who is also a former two-term Manhattan Beach mayor and Manhattan Beach Unified School Board trustee. Fahey conducted a poll of parents affiliated with the program and 37 responded with complaints about Coach Olson’s interaction with players.

The trouble, according to several sources who wish to remain anonymous because they have a child in the program and are worried about possible backlash, started during a previous season when rumors of drug use within the program circulated. This prompted Olson to hold a closed door meeting during which players reportedly said they were not allowed to leave until the culprits were identified.

Parents were concerned that under these circumstances kids said they felt forced to say anything in order to leave the room. The parents took their concerns to Principal Dale but felt their issues were not addressed and that they were quickly brushed aside.

A letter from Judge Fahey to Manhattan Beach Unified School District Superintendent Mike Matthews prompted the school's investigation.

“What you had was a situation where kids were settling old scores with each other,” said Di Monda, describing what the students said transpired during the closed door meeting concerning drug use. “We have a problem when you take young kids and through the use of intimidation force those kids to say things they would not normally say.”

According to Di Monda, parents were not allowed at the meeting and kids felt like they were being held in the room against their will.

“I can’t comment on any specific allegations,” said Olson, who disputes Di Monda's version of the drug use incident. “What I can say is the drug issue was two seasons ago in 2010. None of the current players were involved in that issue in any way. Our seniors were sophomores at the time and none were involved. These accusations [by parents] have always been about playing time. But I will say that the bottom line on this whole thing is that I understand when you hold kids accountable that some people have a problem with that. "

The allegations against Coach Olson revolve around interactions with players in which, according to Judge Fahey's letter to district officials detailing the reported abuse, "... the coach has created a hostile environment in which he continually bullies players and subjects them to verbal and physical abuse."

In the letter Fahey gave to administrators, one parent wrote: “One player was made to run for 2 hours straight during a practice of his teammates while the coach yelled severely abusive remarks in front of his teammates. The punishment was allegedly necessary because the player had an exceptional game the night before - and was being accused of not being a team player.”

Another parent wrote: “My son cried in my arms and said, ‘What did I do to make Cass (Coach Olson) hate me so much?’… (Olson) does not have the tools that are required to be a mentor and leader.”

Olson said in response: “As a parent of a young child, if I had any reason to believe that my son was being abused I would go directly to authorities immediately. These parents waited months to bring up these allegations.”

Di Monda said many parents have come to the defense of Coach Olson but added that doesn’t mean the abuse didn’t happen.

“We know that just because one person had a terrific experience with Coach Olson it does not dismiss the other person’s experience,” he said. “Like many people who abuse children, we believe that Coach Olson had positive experiences with many kids but that he also has a very dark side.”

Another teacher and MCHS coach who wished to remain anonymous because of the sensitive nature of the issue, said, “What we have here is a clear case of the inmates running the asylum. What you have is six parents out of 75 complaining about the treatment of their kids, and because of the threat of litigation, the administration has been forced into a corner. These parents have some very unrealistic expectations for their children and therefore attack anyone who stands in the way of these expectations.”

The turmoil has driven a wedge within the team, pitting player against player and parent against parent, say those close to the situation. Each side is blaming the other for the controversy that now engulfs the program.

“I'm very grateful to [administrators who were in on the investigation] Don Morrow and Ian Drummond for taking the time to interview every single player in the baseball program,” said Olson, who felt vindicated by the results of the investigation. “I am glad that this thorough investigation and the report that it generated completely cleared me of these very serious charges and allowed me to continue coaching."

Olson said after he is reinstated as head coach, fences will need to be mended between the parents and coach.

“I will have an open line of communication,” he said. “And I also know we will have to do a lot of game building and forgiving if we want to move forward positively.”

Olson, who has been a teacher at Mira Costa for 10 years, has a record of 53-43 in his three seasons at the helm of the Mustangs. The team won the Bay League title and advanced to CIF semi-finals in 2010, which was the farthest a Mira Costa team has gone since 1983. 

What do you think of the way the school handled the allegations against Coach Olson? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Dina Moll January 25, 2013 at 05:35 AM
This is total hearsay. If you have a document that Cassidy Olson wrote "stupid" on then you should certainly file a formal complaint, which by the way, NO ONE has filed a formal complaint against Cass. Yes that's right, not a single person. Go ahead and ask anyone at the district or Mira Costa. And for the record, the 35 complaints were solicited. 400 letters were sent, asking for only negative comments, and 35 came back. So can we focus on the 365 parents that are not involved and probably have wonderful things to say about Mr. Olson??? He is a great teacher, a great coach, and should not have to battle with 6 disgruntled parents who are ruining baseball for all the other players right now.
Michael Wilhite January 25, 2013 at 06:55 AM
Our city and athletic program are on a downward spiral when people can anonymously get people fired! This all came about over there supposevely being physical and mental abuse (which was proven wrong by a very extensive interview process where the AD and VP found no abuse and reccomended immediate reinstatement of Cass). There's no way that a few parents should be able to get Cass fired. And FYI, if these 3 families somehow get that to happen there are many of us that will no longer support MCHS athletics and the school if these horrible things can happen!!! Lastly, if you are man enough or woman enough to post on here, why not own up to it by putting your name on here instead of hiding like the 3 families are that started this nonsense!!!! Sad, I hope the teammates of the players are letting these kids know that their mommy and daddy are affecting all the players season, college prospects and their safety since they only have 6th period to practice! Don't let this be the start of the ruining or end of Costa Baseball!!!!
Shelton January 26, 2013 at 05:06 AM
Ok, so when/If these weaklings go to college and are subjected to 'running until they vomit' and 'inappropriate language' thrown at them by their college coach, then what? Pretty sure they are the ones that go back to their dorm room on the first day of practice crying and not understanding why they got cut from the team. Ditto this for their first in everything in life.
Lisa J. January 26, 2013 at 05:11 AM
The coach has the last stroke of the pen when grades are turned in. If I am correct he is still their 6TH PERIOD teacher. These troubled youth should get a "D" on their the transcrips and a "U" for sportsmanship. Let these lil pieces of fecal matter explain to the college coach how they took part in the railroading of a coach/teacher. Teachers show solidarity and dont write letters of recommendation for these brats. Let their attorneys write them! SOMETHING FISHY HERE! FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS COACH. This parent from North supports you!
James S January 26, 2013 at 05:26 PM
A downward spiral is an understatement. This has gotten way out of hand. Instead of trying to "win the battle", why can't everyone focus on what's actually best for the kids. Life is short! Cassidy Olsen is a strict coach with high expectations. Would you rather a coach who sits on the sidelines and doesn't care? He pushes the kids to be the best player AND PERSON they can be. He expects them to work hard and have a good attitude. If your child isn't "the best" he could still have had a great baseball experience. Instead, the parents are fighting their battles and in the long run this will hurt them so much more than simply not having playing time or having to actually work hard at practice. For those of you with negative things to say about Cassidy Olson, I'd like you to think back to your childhood. Who made the biggest impact on your life? Was it the coach that sat on the sideline and came to practice cause it was his "job"? Was it the teacher who gave you easy tests and passed everyone in the class? NO!!!! It was the coach who pushed you to be the best you could be. Or the teacher that made you study and actually earn the grade you received. This is the coach and teacher Cassidy Olson is. Right now he is "tough", but he is one the kids will look back on and admire!
Chino Moreno January 27, 2013 at 06:19 AM
1. Who is going to defend the "typical high school coach" here? The typical HS coach is not angry or in it for the money or anything else - the typical high school coach is in it for the kids and love of the sport. 2. If I am not mistaken it was the late great John Wooden that said something to the effect of it's not mandatory that you do x, but it also isn't mandatory that you play so if you don't want to do it, don't play. Today, there are plenty of opportunities to play somewhere. Heck, nowadays you don't even have to play for your high school to earn the ever elusive carrot, the college scholarship. 3. Stories like this, for anyone paying attention, will be the end of high school athletics very soon. If you look at what club (pay to play) sports have done to HS soccer, water polo and volleyball, then you will see that the writing is on the wall for basketball and baseball. Football is safe from "club" but with all the studies and the effects of hitting on the brain, football will soon become too big of a liability for schools. I guess all this is okay. Sadly, I know a great deal of people out there don't understand why we have sports in schools as it is. Oh well, is it important to value competitiveness in a capitalistic society? You tell me.
Chino Moreno January 27, 2013 at 06:33 AM
Well said James. Who here hasn't had a colleague, a boss, a teacher, someone that we didn't like but had to put up with? All of us, everyone goes through it. It is life. You either learn to deal with it and adapt or you fail and continually make excuses and point fingers. At the end of the day, the question is: is coach really a threat (a real threat not someone that might hurt your ego) to these kids or does he have their best interest in mind? AND if he is a real threat, why is only a threat after 3pm but between 2:20 and 3:00 it's okay for him to be around kids?
Chino Moreno January 27, 2013 at 06:44 AM
Happening all around us almost on a daily basis. The player that quits via twitter or a blog. The player that quits because be got yelled at during practice. The helicopter parent that sues the school. The player that uses his phone to videotape his "punishment" and posts it to YouTube. I am not saying all coaches are saints, but the high school aged athlete in 2013 is so coddled that is embarrassing. God forbid we ever need to have a draft again but what would happen to these kids and our country if these kids were drafted? And one last thing, lets stop calling 16, 17 year old people boys and girls. Sure they are young and not quite adults but these aren't little kids we are discussing here. Like Manti Te'o - he's 21 and people keep saying how he's just a kid. No way, he's 21. That's a man. Imagine 30, 40, 50 years ago someone making excuses for a 21 year old and saying he's just kid. Silly, right?
Chino Moreno January 27, 2013 at 06:50 AM
If I were yelled at by my superior, I would immediately text my mom. Then I would go smoke some weed because how else am I supposed to cope? I mean, shouldn't things be easy for me? I just want to be happy. Y'know, do what I want when I want with who I want whenever I want. I is the key pronoun here.
Chino Moreno January 27, 2013 at 06:54 AM
High school students, and I know I used to be one and surrounded by them too, often confuse reality from perception. If I remember right, and I probably don't, high school was like a really bad game of telephone. If you've seen 3 o'clock high, that is a pretty accurate portrayal of how rumors or exaggeration of the truth spread around a campus.
Chino Moreno January 27, 2013 at 07:05 AM
You know what would be awesome, if people understood their roles. Some of the roles you might have: 1- Parent or fan .... You get to watch, cheer, and enjoy the contest. 2- Coach or athlete ... You get to compete and partake, but remember you are not the official too so just play or coach. 3 - Officials ... Try to get the play right, no one is there to see you. 4 - Workers ... Do your job, and be good at it. Take tickets, work the snack shack, do security or keep stats. 5 - Other? I don't know, am I forgetting one? Staff, administration, whomever. Bottom line, know your role. You can only choose one and keep in mind, your actions are constant modeling for the younger people involved. You disagree with a call? Sign up to be a ref or an umpire. Don't like the technique being taught, sign up to coach. Finally, keep in mind we are dealing with young people here involved in amateur athletics filled with teachable moments. Relax, take a deep breath, and enjoy.
Chino Moreno January 27, 2013 at 07:10 AM
I agree, but this is not exclusive to the Manhattan Beach community or upscale neighborhoods. This is occurring everywhere and in every sport. As parents we all love or kids and that's great, be there for them.... But, sports will lose any or all of their value if parents continue to involve themselves in this manner. A lawsuit to fire a high school baseball coach because of yelling? Almost seems laughable, except it's real.
Chino Moreno January 27, 2013 at 07:13 AM
Oh, you are so right. Never underestimate the pettiness, the grudges, or the envy of people. The older I get the more disheartened i get with the behavior of some adults. Is it that difficult to just do the right thing for the right reasons? Darn egos.
boomboom January 27, 2013 at 04:17 PM
I would never be one of those parents that are weak. I am a parent, a teacher and a mentor to my kids. My first ministry. I am responsible for creating a good and productive person for society. Not o e that has tbe "entitlement" mentality. I cannot believe that parents would destroy relationships that their kids have had for gears to find something that is easier or that makes my kid feel special. Insane. What kind of kids are we raisng here??? No wonder we are thought as weak be societies standards. Motbers still nursing tbrough highschool.There are failures in life. We have all been tbere. Are we too foolish to think that there aren't failures? Failures help us to grow and learn. We learn from failures. We don't file lawsuits. I have taught taught my son that with hard work comes the reward. If you dont work hard to get better then dont expect to play. Why should my son or any other parent's son take the place over a kid that worked hard to deserve that spot??? I was taught this by my father and my coach. This is life. Parents that expect the world for their kid without earning it is a recipe for disaster. Bottom line, teach them great work ethic. If they still don't make it then it wasn't meant to be or just choose a sport that works to their abilities. Don't cheat them out of that. They may not be as good as you were at it and thats ok.
boomboom January 27, 2013 at 04:19 PM
Oh well. My spell check "stinxs" but you get the point.
boomboom January 27, 2013 at 04:23 PM
I should use the computer and not the phone for this. Anyway, I support the coach. I know him.
Dwight Broeman January 27, 2013 at 04:34 PM
Awe jeez. I got my %^* kicked when playing baseball. Especially at El Camino. I was verbally pummeled to sand by my coaches. I didn't start until the cartilage in my knees was showing from sliding practice. I had to run with the team in my catchers gear.. Best life lessons I ever had. Only made me better. Set me up for the world. I can do anything. No trophies for everyone back then.
Brian Folks January 27, 2013 at 11:19 PM
They want their kid to continue to play because they love the game, have played for years and might have a shot on a college team. No sense in letting one bad apple end your kid's dreams. If you don't stay anonymous the coach can kill your kid's collegiate playing chances by bad-mouthing your kid to a recruiter - potentially costing you tens of thousands in lost scholarship money. I do agree that too often parents and children feel entitled. Yes, that is a result of our "participation trophy" generation.
Brian Folks January 27, 2013 at 11:23 PM
Dina Moll January 28, 2013 at 12:13 AM
My point is, if Mr. Olson was truly abusing their child, they would NOT allow them to continue to be in his presence. Calling someone a child abuser is a pretty serious accusation, so if these parents are going to continue to litigate this matter, they won't be anonymous for long. But I think the real point here is that Cass did nothing wrong, and is being accused of something he just didn't do. No kid that has their parents threaten to sue a high school coach (who definitely doesn't do this job for the money but because he loves the sport as well) deserves to be on a college team anyway, in my opinion.
Jeff Gleason February 01, 2013 at 10:13 PM
Both of my children had Cassidy Olson as a teacher. He was tough and demanding and cut no slack. He made it very clear about what was expected. Both children will tell you Mr.Olson was one of best teahers they had at Costa. I can only assume that he has not changed much in the 4 years since my youngest graduated.
Renna Carter February 05, 2013 at 04:23 AM
My name is Renna, and I am currently a student in Mr. Olson's freshman geography class. You stated that he is a "narcissistic man," and that his class should be "monitored by video". I believe that anyone who commits wholeheartedly to a program like Mr. Olson does with baseball should not be considered narcissistic by society, as he is obviously devoted to his school and his students. Someone who gives up their time for the good of others is NOT narcissistic. And if you were to set up a video monitoring system in his class, I can almost guarantee that most people who watched it would be laughing at his amazing sense of humor. You also stated that kids are afraid of being ridiculed and having their grade lowered. I can honestly state that I don't believe Mr. Olson would ever lower someone's grade for coming to him with a valid complaint. If you have a documented case where he did so, then by all means, show us. And in regard to peer ridicule, this just goes to show how much us students value Mr. Olson as a teacher and coach. If someone attempts to attack him with petty arguments and damaging rumors, we are all prepared to step up and defend him. In your third paragraph, you somehow went from teacher issues to drug problems. While I acknowledge that there may be drug issues at Costa, they aren't caused by Mr. Olson. I am speaking of my own free will and expressing MY opinion, not my parents'. I am in Mr. Olson's class, and it is an enjoyable experience.
Renna Carter February 05, 2013 at 04:32 AM
I sincerely hope that you are not a legal adult. As a high school student, I am apalled by the fact that someone considered "mature" by society would write things like this about people he has obviously never met. While I acknowledge that you have the right to your own opinion, I have a right to mine as well, and my opinion is that you have no right to judge us "mb snobs" and our programs without living in the community yourself.
Renna Carter February 05, 2013 at 04:39 AM
35 + complained, but everyone else in the program supported Mr. Olson. And I'm sure students like me, who are in his Geography class, would step up to defend him as well if needed. That alone should show you the overwhelming support that this man has from our community.
Renna Carter February 05, 2013 at 04:41 AM
Thank you for speaking out for all of us students who know how to deal with adversity!
Renna Carter February 05, 2013 at 04:42 AM
What I would like to know is in what universe does BUNTING qualify as a reason to suspend a perfectly capable coach?
Renna Carter February 05, 2013 at 04:44 AM
While I see where you're coming from, Mr. Olson is a valued coach and teacher at Costa. Most of us students don't want him to get fired.
Renna Carter February 05, 2013 at 04:46 AM
While I respect your viewpoint, most of us students would like to know when something like this is going on. We also support healthy discussions of somewhat controversial topics such as this one.
Renna Carter February 05, 2013 at 04:51 AM
I, for one, would not be comfortable with a vengeful parent "observing" the class I'm in. I am not saying that you are one of these parents, I'm just trying to point out that Costa may have not allowed you to come into the classroom in order to ensure that students feel safe. If you were to observe his class, however, you would find that these rumors of extreme abuse are all fabricated.
Renna Carter February 05, 2013 at 04:53 AM
Well said.


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