Middletown’s youth football teams and cheer program have been suspended from the Western Ohio Junior Football Conference, according to the Middletown City Schools athletic department.
The league told the Middletown school district it had suspended the Middletown Youth Football and Cheer Program indefinitely, according to a Facebook post by the Middletown Schools athletic department.
The school district does not manage the programs, but it was informed because of the athletes’ and students’ connections to the district, the post said.
A group of concerned parents gathered on Wednesday night near Barnitz Stadium to discuss options since the program was suspended.
Parents said they wanted their children to have an opportunity to finish the regular season in the next two weeks and to compete in postseason tournaments. If the season is cut short, multiple parents urged the coaches to seek other tournaments to enter. Some said they also want Middletown to join another league next season.
Toward the end of the meeting, Quincy Hightower, president of the Middletown Youth Football and Cheer Program, said he wants the suspension reversed so the kids can continue playing.
“Let us finish the season,” Hightower said. “If you let us finish the season, we will walk away. We are fighting and we are fighting for your kids. Those kids are like my kids. It’s all about these kids. We are going to go through the process.”
While the league chairman didn’t return messages seeking comment from the Journal-News, parents said the suspension was based on Middletown not following certain bylaws and alleged actions of some parents.
They said players on one of the Middletown teams in grades kindergarten through sixth grades were not wearing proper protective gear, an infraction that they said was corrected. They also said Middletown fans were accused of misbehaving in the stands, but several of them defended their actions as being supportive.
Taria Williams, whose son plays third-grade football and whose daughter is a first-grade cheerleader, said Middletown parents also have been accused of being “unruly.” But, she said, every games is videotaped and at no time, has she seen the parents misbehaving.
“We get passionate,” she said.
She said the suspension isn’t fair because of the impact it’s having on the youth.
“We just want to play,” she said. “Football is our life. Then it’s being snatched away. That’s not right.”
The post from Middletown Schools’ athletic department did not state a reason for the suspension.
“It is our goal to support our youth organizations in the Middletown community,” Middletown Schools athletic director JD Foust said in the post.
“Regarding this specific situation, it is our hope that the leadership of the Middletown Youth Football and Cheer program can find common ground with the leadership of the WOJFC, so our children have the opportunity to successfully finish their 2019 regular season.
“Our athletic department and coaching staff is working to provide guidance to our youth program’s leadership for this specific situation, and we also intend to play an active role in support of their internal restructuring and league affiliation in the future.”
The WOJFC includes programs from Fairborn, Kettering, Meadowdale, Miamisburg, Middletown, Springboro, Springfield, Vandalia, Wayne, West Carrollton and Wilmington. The league’s final two games are scheduled for this weekend and the weekend of Oct. 12-13.
Middletown joined the league this season, according to the WOJFC website.
A message was left for the league chairman for comment.
This story will be updated when new information is available.
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