Updated: Racial discrimination, WIAA violation claims filed against Meadowdale girls coach; parents say they’re unfounded

This story was updated Saturday, Dec. 3 to include responses from Meadowdale parents and volunteer coaches.

A racial discrimination complaint has been filed against the Meadowdale High School head girls basketball coach by a 10th grade player who said she is tired of systemic racism in the girls basketball program.

However, parents of other girls in the program have come forward to support the coach, stating the player’s allegations are unfounded.

On Nov. 18, the 10th grader – whose name has not been released – filed a formal complaint against girls basketball coach Kevin Thompson. The complaint was filed on the basis of racial discrimination against her and multiple other players on all three girls basketball teams – varsity, junior varsity and C team – as well as multiple WIAA rule violations.

The Edmonds School District has opened an investigation into these claims with third-party investigator Luke & Olsen, PSC, and expects to receive those findings by Dec. 16.

“We take these claims seriously and are working to quickly and thoroughly come to a resolution,” said Lisa Van Cise, who works in the school district’s communications department.

According to the written complaint, Thompson – who was hired as the head coach in May 2021 – “has instituted a series of actions which discriminate specifically against students of color within [the] program.”

The student athlete who filed the complaint listed instances where Thompson singled her out during practices, belittling her and forcing her to sit outside of the gym as the rest of the girls finished practicing. Thompson allegedly also benched the 10th grader for the last four games of the season last year without giving any explanation.

The student, who identifies as Hispanic, said she was told after the games that her position on the varsity team was being given to two students who identified as white.

“I was then informed that my role and minutes were being taken by a white…player and another white transfer student, and that I would only play varsity if we played ‘weak’ varsity teams,” she said. “When I began to explain my position to the coaches, Mr. Thompson began yelling at me and cursed at me: ‘I don’t give two shits about you.’”

Parent Caleb Powell, whose two daughters play on the Meadowdale High School varsity team, said the parents in the girls basketball program support Coach Thompson and that the student’s allegations have no merit. Three of the 10 girls listed as varsity players are multiracial and another multiracial player is a swing player who alternates between the junior varsity and varsity squads, he said. The student making the complaint was also scheduled to be a swing player after spending her time on junior varsity last year, Powell said.

Having freshman and sophomore players move between junior varsity and varsity squads is common and assists with player development, said Powell, who also co-directs the Meadowdale girls basketball feeder program. The feeder program includes fifth- through eighth-grade girls living in the Meadowdale High School boundaries, although sometimes there are not enough girls to fill teams, in which case out-of-bounds girls may play.

Powell and another parent, Leon Dotter – who coaches Meadowdale varsity players who compete during the off-season fall high school basketball league — said they believe the student’s allegations were fueled by her disappointment in not making the varsity team and instead being assigned as a swing player.

The student filing the complaint also alleged this is not the first time that students of color have been removed from the varsity team to make space for white student athletes to join the team.

“Mr. Thompson has made a point to discourage all athletes of color and promote and rise white athletes within our program since he began coaching last summer,” she said. “Some students have chosen to quit the program altogether and some are just frustrated and don’t know how to advocate for themselves. Since his hire, Mr. Thompson systemically has singled out students of color that have played several years within the Meadowdale program and he now keeps them on [junior varsity] or C Team and gives their playing spots and opportunity to underclass students in lower grades simply because they happen to be white students.”

Parent Leon Dotter, who is African American and has experience coaching the player who made the allegations, said her claims are untrue. “I know what discrimination is being a Black man in America. This is not the case. The player needs more development. This is not a race issue.”

Dotter, who has been volunteering with the Meadowdale program for nine years, said he believes Coach Thompson is an asset to the girls basketball team, calling him a “family oriented human being who communicates to parents and kids on a personal level.” That’s why, Dotter said, he supported the district’s decision to hire Thompson as head coach after Thompson served as an assistant with the program.

In addition to the racial discrimination claims, the student also stated in her complaint that Thompson continues to break multiple Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) rules. Thompson allegedly recruited a student from another school during the off season, which is a violation of WIAA policies.

The student athlete claimed Thompson additionally uses the off season to judge who will be on the team in the upcoming season – which is also a violation of rules.

“WIAA is clear that off-season activity cannot determine placement on teams and that coaches are not allowed to participate in off-season activity,” she said. “Mr. Thompson purposefully violates these rules by telling players that their participation in the off season, ‘shows their commitment to the team and determines their placement on the team.’ Mr. Thompson has held meetings with parent coaches to essentially coach via proxy in the off season. He also attends the fall season games to see who is playing and how they are doing.”

Dotter said that the allegations of recruiting a player from another school are untrue, noting Thompson didn’t even know who the new player in question was until September. As for the claim of being a “coach by proxy” through parent volunteers, both Powell and Dotter said that Thompson attended one off-season game to watch, but there was no communication between Thompson and the parent coaches, since WIAA rules prohibit it.

According to OSPI’s Equity Office, the school district must complete the investigation and issue a written response within 30 calendar days, unless an extension is requested.

–By Lauren Reichenbach


  1. This is absolutely outrageous. I commend the courage of the young woman advocating for herself, it can be difficult to stand up against people in positions of power and i whole heartedly believe that these claims be taken very seriously. The outcome of this situation will reflect on the entire school, I truly hope they suspend this coach during investigation and take proper action according to the finding.

    1. I am curious why you jumped so quickly to “guilty”? Did it occur to you that maybe there are other factors involved in the coach’s decisions? Is the player disruptive? Does the player show up for all practices, and on time? Is the player able to perform at the same level as the other players? Is she distracted by other students while playing? Is she a team player? Does she think play time should be equal based on nothing other than showing up?
      The claims are being taken seriously. The article states that he has the support of the other players and parents.
      We all need to STOP jumping to conclusions. The world around us is a mess, and these kinds of allegations only contribute to the breakdown of trust in adults hired to teach, coach and help guide young people.

  2. Anyone can make an allegation. If her complaint is found to be true then appropriate disciplinary action should be taken. It is premature to judge the coach before the investigation has been completed and before all the facts are known. It is the equivalent of being found guilty of a crime before having a fair trial.

  3. The District is doing the right thing by having an independent agent investigate the allegations as to veracity. Everything else written in the mean time is public relations designed to sway public opinion. The fact that this young lady has spoken out indicates that she needs to be heard and her grievances addressed in a positive way by competent well educated adults; whether what she has said is partially or totally true or not. Let’s ease up a little on the competition aspect in youth sports and make it be a positive life learning experience for all participating students of all ethnic backgrounds. I see a possible hidden agenda of over involved “parent wanted to be great athletes” a little too worried about winning at all costs; as opposed to as many kids as possible, from all backgrounds, just having fun in competition with each other.

  4. As a mom raising a teenager daughter, I will always promote young women standing up and advocating for themselves. Having first hand knowledge of this situation and all parties involved; I can say with 100% confidence that these allegations are false. My family supports Coach Thompson. The district is right to have an independent agency investigate. We look forward to him and the Meadowdale Girls Basketball Program being cleared of these baseless allegations.

  5. There could even be misunderstanding because reasons for actions aren’t explained. It helps kids hear adults thinking even though they don’t agree with the actions. There are many good coaches out there, but some of them do “bark”. I’d say better safe than sorry and check things out, but it’s bad if accusations are put out in public before initially checked first.

  6. As a coach of color, mentor and friend of Coach Thompson, I can speak on his behalf and say he is not seeking to make his program white. He simply is putting the athletes he feels are talented enough to be on varsity. Student athletes of color that are alum of MHS still call him and ask him for advice and encouragement. The student that transferred is also multiracial and I know he didn’t recruit her because she is from my school and I know of the situation. I do think administration and districts should do their duty to investigate if there are concerns brought up by parents and athletes. I’m just saddened that this will be a distraction to their basketball community. He only wants to do what’s best for the program. Coach and I have coached club together, been on professional development trips to UConn and Stanford together, have had conversations about DEI issues as well as how to coach student athletes the best we can. I would let him coach my own kids. Praying that all the parties can make amends and move forward so all the girls, including her can have fun.

  7. I’m curious why all the coaches and mentors in the Meadowdale girls program from grade school to H.S. seem to be men. Is there some shortage of female Phys. Ed. teachers and coaches locally or nationally? I mean you don’t ever see almost all women coaching and mentoring in boys school athletic programs.

    Maybe more female mentoring, coaching and roll modeling is a missing component here? If I were the investigator, one of my questions to the girls would be how they feel about most of their coaches being men and would they be more comfortable if it were more of a sister hood in the coaching/mentoring department. The whole goal of this thing should be more about helping all the girls, including the accuser, have a better athletic experience at Meadowdale, rather than saving a bunch of jobs or protecting the accused from the accuser or vice versa. Making this investigation too much about all the adults in the room would be a mistake. The accuser certainly deserves just as much protection as the accused and she’s already being accused of lying in the court of public opinion by some commenters here.

    1. Clinton – fair question to which there are a range of explanations. Karen Blair was head coach @ MHS for several years until about 2005, and then Ballard HS after that. Coach Blair’s style was tough and she won way more games than she lost. Additionally she mentored and helped other coaches like me on how to coach young athletes. I attribute all of my coaching successes to the mentors I had, especially coach Blair.

      Coach Blair was candid about the freedoms she had that allowed her to coach: She was not having or raising children, she was an executive in control of her schedule, she was able to commit most of her time from about October thru March, and she had played and knew the game.

      We’ve come a long way and we’ve got a long ways to go, so that women athletes who mature and want to coach sports have the same freedoms Coach Blair had.

  8. As a parent of a multi-ethnic player at one of the local high schools, I can confirm all of our assistant coaches at our school are women who had successful college basketball careers, and several have been with our program for a decade or longer. High school sports have become very competitive. My own daughter has played basketball since age five. She has put in many, many hours playing over the years in the off-season, and has done her own training to get to where she is at this point. Much of her development has come from playing with young female athletes from all over the PNW, and playing under a variety of coaches with very different coaching methods. All coaches are an integral part of a young athlete’s development. The athlete and parents may not always see eye to eye with some decisions, but if you want to play, you have to respect those decisions. High school sports are not comparable to a recreational team where equal play is expected. The athletes that compete at the varsity high school level have worked very hard, and put in the time to earn their spot.

  9. That’s horrible. It sounds as though playing a sport in High School is training like a pro. Isn’t this supposed to be a place to learn to play a sport? And that happens by playing. Why do kids need to choose a sport at 5? It might happen later in their schooling, and they need that opportunity. It seems to me that our school’s sports programs are way too competitive. WHY is that?

    1. Hi Theresa,

      It’s actually not horrible to the kids that have chosen this path. We have never forced our kids into playing sports at that level. Most who make it to the varsity level in high school want to be competing at a high level of competition.

      That’s why they’ve put in all the time and effort along the way. Not everyone has that same drive or aptitude, and that’s OK! We all have our interests and our natural talents in life.

      And to clarify, most of the high schools in our state have a junior varsity and a freshman or C level team to encourage young athletes with less experience or time commitment to try out and participate. This is a great opportunity for someone who is new to a sport, wants to learn more about a sport, build skills, stay in shape, and hopefully build comraderies and lasting memories with their fellow teammates.

      It’s also a great way to work towards that varsity level opportunity if that’s what someone is striving for.

  10. Mmmm. . . . Makes me wonder if this is how the kids want it all to work, or if this is how the parents want it to work? Sounds like lots of pressure over the years when it starts at 5 y. o.
    a. One of my H.S. friends played Varsity football Center on offense and defense. He was totally burnt out with sports at end of 12th. grade and thrilled that none of his 3 kids played H.S. sports. I can see why.

  11. As the former Athletic Director at Meadowdale High School, it saddens me to read of the situation the Maverick Girls’ Basketball program is facing as they begin their season. I agree that the district must investigate the concerns raised by this student-athlete and hope this will be done quickly so that everyone can move forward, and the girls can get back to their love of “shooting hoops.”
    Coaching in a high school setting is difficult regardless of whether you are male or female, black or white. You give everything you have to someone else’s kids, and if you are lucky enough to coach your own kids. . . you often get criticized for that as well.
    Let’s support both the coaches and players at Meadowdale High School. Go Mavs!

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