NICOLAUS (CBS13) -– Did a high school football coach mistreat one of his players or was the coach just being strict?

That’s at the heart of a claim filed against the East Nicolaus High School District last week.

The claim filed by the student’s mother alleges that on Aug. 23, head coach Mark Varnum punished one of his players, Justin Williams, so severely that the 16-year-old junior suffered from dehydration, a partially collapsed lung and a concussion.

Read the claim

Williams was allegedly being punished for missing practice the day before. The claim says Varnum told him that, “Today you are going to wish you were never born.”

Williams then was forced to run two miles, followed by a “kickoff drill” in which he had to try to run through 11 other players, according to the claim.

After Williams’ first time through the drill, Varnum instructed the players to “lay his ass out,” the claim alleges.

Williams is listed on the East Nicolaus roster as a 5-foot-8 and 155 pounds. He is no longer playing on the team.

Scott Miller, a senior on the East Nicolaus team, was there when the alleged incident took place. He tells CBS13’s Ben Sosenko the punishment was no different than that for any other teammate who misses practice.

“I don’t know why these allegations were made or why any of this is happening,” Miller said. “He’s a good coach, he’s a great dad, he’s a great teacher. He’s pushed us to the limits that we didn’t think we could go. He’s really made this team a successful team.”

The school is located in Sutter County, about halfway between Sacramento and Marysville. The Sutter County Sheriff’s Department told CBS13 they have conducted an investigation and didn’t find any criminal conduct by Varnum.

Still, people in town tell us that this isn’t the first complaint about the way Varnum treats his players and coaches.

“I absolutely think they work them too hard, and to me it’s supposed to be a game,” one parent said. “It’s supposed to be fun and they’re out there, they’re running them, it’s (practice) too long, and I don’t agree with it.”

The boy’s mother, Marcie Mackay, has been advised not to speak to the media, but her attorney, Noel Farris of Sacramento, tells us that Varnum held a team meeting to make sure his players all had the same story.

The claim also says the Varnum has been sexually inappropriate, sharing photographs of a female student to other members of his coaching staff, and placing his genitals on the face of a student.

Again, claims, one of players say are false.

“I’ve been here four years. Our coach has never sent any kind of pictures to anybody,” the player said.

Superintendent Matthew Roberts declined comment Monday other than to say a press release would be issued by the district. In the press release, sent to CBS13 early Tuesday afternoon, Roberts said the district is still investigating the incident but so far “indicates Mr. Williams’ allegation of being mistreated during football practice is totally unfounded.”

It goes on to say “Mr. Williams was treated as any other player who skips a football practice. … The District denies any wrongdoing by Coach Varnum and the coaching staff during the August 23 practice.”

Read the entire press release

The school board will meet on Wednesday to discuss the matter. If the district rejects the claim, Mackay can file a lawsuit.

On Friday coach Varnum’s team will be back on the field to play another game, hosting Biggs.

Comments (14)
  1. Mig000 says:

    So if u don’t push these kids to the fullest something might happen to them during a football game players should drink a lot of water during school so they can stay hydrated at practices football a lot psychical contact all football coach have to be mean to motivate players from slacking off Players know what’s the punishment is for missing practices

  2. jc says:

    What a panzy, crying home to his mama! lol notice he’s not on the team anymore. Maybe he should play tennis or join the quior.

  3. TP says:

    Hey JC, it’s spelled choir, not quior you moron…..maybe you should take an English class!!

  4. michelle says:

    There’s a fine line between getting the kids ready to play football and abuse sometimes. Football is a very tough sport. However, I do believe the coach crossed that line.

  5. Nathan says:

    I graduated from EN, class of 2011. En is such a small school that if there is any incident at school, especially something as bad as a teacher tea-bagging a student, it would get around so fast it wouldn’t even be funny. Generally your parents know of the drama before you even get home.

    I have had many players say that Varnum was off running a drill with the lineman when Justin was injured. Many have also say that Justin’s mom is going through hard times financially and it just looking for money.

    I have no idea what the truth is and I will wait for an official report beyond the Sheriff saying that nothing criminal happened

  6. bobby booshay says:

    high school football is serious across the nation, period. what is a partially collapsed, low on oxygen. its football, not futbol.

  7. Nobama says:

    Just because someone files a lawsuit claiming that someone else is responsible for damages, doesn’t mean that it is fact. There are a lot of unanswered questions, why don’t we reserve judgement until all the answers are in. There was one small quick comment that law enforcement investigated these claims and found no validity to them. Then there is a comment from a football player who was present at the alleged incident, who apparently doesn’t think that there was any wrongdoing on the coach’s part. Then we see film of an unnamed mother sitting in her car who states that the football players are just worked too hard and that she doesn’t agree with that…..I mean, it is so hot outside, and they get sweaty and tired. Well then ma’am, if you don’t like it, just don’t let your son play football. She claims that it is just a game and supposed to be fun. Tell that to the kids who play contact sports, kids who give it their all, not because they are forced to, but because they love it and want to win. This is not tiddly winks, lady. These are competitive young men with testosterone, who are doing what they want to do. You may not understand it, but no one is forcing these kids to play.

  8. Val says:

    I watched he newscast last night on channel 13. I think that they generally are fair and trueful on there reporting. However last night they could not have gotten it more wrong!!!!
    I think that displaying Varnum’s picture on a full screen like he was one of america most wanted was very inapropriate. Also the photo of Varnum standing over the kid on the ground was cropped and misrepensented as him yelling at the player. That was taken last year duing pre game practices and it is a well known drill amoung football players called “The Colorado” However the way it was represented and the placement of the photo in the story made it seem as if Varnum was yelling (in an abusive way (to better match the story line) at the player on the ground. I am surpprised that they would edit a photo that was taken by the Appeal Democart to highlight an article they wrote on the Spartans football team last year. The photo had been cropped to remove the rest of the picture to spotlight Varnum in a fashion that would better suit the story. Shame on the Appeal Democrate and Shame on channel 13 news for not getting their facts straight before they convict this man via the media. And to Sam Shane – I take great offence to your comments after the piece. I will nolonger put much faith in channel 13’s reporting.

  9. mommy says:

    Let him be a waterboy, so he will never dehydreted again. I glad that my son plays in football, and never cries, even after his couch broke his shoulder ( I am sure it was an accident}

  10. Shelly says:

    I don’t know why my past two tries have not posted. Here it is again:

    Two words: Korey Stringer. Lawsuit settled in favor of his family.

    The first responsibility is for the child’s safety. Yes football is tough. Again, the coach crossed the line. I was a nationally ranked athlete and I have worked in the past with professional athletes. This coach went too far.

  11. 2good4u says:

    I smell a small town cover up. It’s all about football, and not about the kids…what a shame. The truth will come out eventually; then the finger pointing will begin.

  12. sarcasm says:

    do anything and everything to protect the honor and dignity of FOOTBALL….?

  13. JAC says:

    I played football for ENHS and the punishment that was decided for that kid was appropriate. He made the commitment to play and then made the decision to miss practice so he had the choice to quit or take the punishment. He chose the punishment. If he was dehydrated maybe he needs to hydrate more during the day. You cannot blame the short time at practice for dehydrating him that much. Suck it up you pansies. As for the allegations or pics and or sexual misconduct that needs to be resolved appropriately. I bet the pansy student that is whinnying about the practice is making up the allegations.

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