CHAPEL HILL — Senior catcher Sean Dawson said Thursday that in the three years he played for former Chapel Hill High School baseball coach Randy Trumbower, the coach verbally and physically abused him and other players.
Friday, Trumbower, a special education teacher, said the allegations are untrue.
“Terribly disappointed,” Trumbower said. “I’m frustrated that my name has been dragged through the mud and frustrated that I did not have my due process.”
Trumbower led Chapel Hill’s baseball team to two conference championships. He said parents never confronted him about allegations of abuse and he has not been allowed to defend himself.
After four years as head coach, his contract was not renewed this year.
He will, however, retain his position as special education teacher.
“If I’m such a terrible person, then why I am still teaching?” he said.
More than 50 parents and students attended a meeting convened by Principal Sulura Jackson at the school Wednesday night to discuss Trumbower’s removal. Jackson later declined public comment and said that it was a personnel matter. She had a police officer escort a reporter out of the building before the meeting.
Susie Fisher, mother of pitcher Coby Fisher, said every parent at the meeting supported Trumbower but no one was allowed to speak on his behalf. Three sons of hers have played for Trumbower and she calls him a player’s coach.
“You don’t have a coach who cares more about the players than Randy Trumbower,” Fisher said Thursday. “He’s over-the-top, ultra-sensitive for his boys.”
Fisher does not believe the accusations and said some parents plan to challenge the principal’s decision. She said players who accused the coach most likely had a beef with him over their playing time.
Dawson said otherwise.
He said the abuse took place almost every day.
Dawson, who is 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, accused Trumbower of slapping him on the head, punching him, putting him down and embarrassing him in front of his classmates and teammates.
He also says he saw Trumbower put a water bottle on top of another player’s head and throw a baseball at the water bottle, in front of other players, to teach the student a lesson.
Dawson said the last straw came in April when Trumbower hit him in his catcher’s face mask with a fungo bat. Fungo bats are smaller in diameter, lighter and longer than regular bats. They are designed for fielding practice.
Dawson said he walked off the field and said he wouldn’t play for the coach anymore.
The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Human Resources Department investigated the matter. The department has no record of Trumbower being suspended, HR Director Arasi Adkins said in an email Friday.
According to the department, Trumbower earns $4,009.60 per month, not counting coaching pay. He has worked for the district six years and has tenure.
Dawson said his teammates and their families supported him at first but later turned on him and his parents. Other students at school ignore him, send him harassing text messages and yell at him in the hallways, he said.
“It’s like something you see on TV,” Dawson said. “It’s absurd that it happened this long. What if it happened to their kid?”
Ken Dawson echoed his son’s sentiments.
“If that was anybody else’s kid, I would have told and backed them up,” he said.
Athletic Director Todd Morgan declined to comment.
Other parents who have privately complained about Trumbower also declined to comment publicly, saying they wanted to put this situation behind them.