Lawsuit Filed Against Coach, School District – Herald Publications
By Pamela Rensing
MASCOUTAH – A 55-page lawsuit was filed in federal court in Illinois on Wednesday, August 24 against a Mascoutah volleyball coach and the Mascoutah school district.
The lawsuit states that volleyball head coach Todd Gober subjected the team to “demoralizing and degrading” activities. The lawsuit was brought by Brooke Junker, a May 2022 MHS graduate and former volleyball team captain. She says Gober and the school district violated her civil rights and discriminated against her.
According to the lawsuit, the players were punished after scrimmage matches which included:
• “Spanking Machine” – The girls of the winning team stood in a line with their legs apart. The girls on the losing team must crawl across the leg of the girls on the winning team and allow the standing ones to slap the buttocks of the crawling ones, sometimes hard enough to leave a hand-shaped mark on the buttocks .
• “Kill the Squirrel” – The girls of the losing team are lined up on a wall. The winning team serves volleyballs to the losers and tries to hit them. Losers cannot leave the wall until they are hit.
• “Seal Barks” – Girls on the losing team must lie on their stomachs and bark like seals.
• “Donkey Kicks” – The girls on the losing team must crawl like donkeys, kick to kick their butts a certain number of times and make “hee-haw” sounds.
The lawsuit says Gober demanded that the girls participate in an obstacle course where they were partnered. One partner was blindfolded and the other partner tried to guide them through a maze of mousetraps without using words such as “forward”, “backward”, “left” or “right”.
At the end of the obstacle course, participants who did not perform well had to eat sardines, radishes and other foods while blindfolded.
On Friday, August 26, the lawsuit says the coach forced the team to line up after a game and confront the spectators in the stands while yelling at the girls, telling them they had “let their fans down. “.
Junker and three other seniors met separately with a Mascoutah school counselor, expressing concerns about how they were treated.
The adviser reported the incident to Mascoutah athletic director Scott Battas.
In the lawsuit, Junker said Gober “reprimanded the four old people for about 45 minutes, said they ‘betrayed’ him by talking to a counselor, said they were not to see or talk to a counselor, and that older people were not allowed to participate in practice that day.
On Monday, August 30, Gober reportedly met the four seniors again in private. Their “team captain” status was removed and Gober said there would be no captains in the 2021-22 volleyball season.
Brooke Junker, is the daughter of Jeff and Beth Junker. Jeff Junker is the former vice principal of Mascoutah High School. He retired this summer. According to the lawsuit, the parents attempted to intervene on their daughter’s behalf.
The lawsuit says Junker is seeking damages in excess of $500,000. She is represented by Mathis, Marifian & Richter Ltd of Belleville.
Todd Gober is President and CEO of First Federal Savings Bank of Mascoutah.