Former Baseball Player Sues Coach for Benching Him

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Former Los Altos High School student-athlete Robbie Lopez and his parent have leveled a lawsuit against varsity head baseball coach Gabriel Lopez, claiming that the coach’s attitude toward the player displays a “pattern of harassment and bullying.”

According to the suit, Coach Lopez denied Robbie the opportunity to take the field during his senior year, despite Robbie having been a starting player the three years prior to Coach Lopez taking the position.

The Lopez family is seeking $150,000 or more from the school district and the coach.

Robbie’s father, Robert Lopez II, told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune that he believes his son was kept on the bench in retaliation to a complaint made to Hacienda La Puente Unified athletic director Andrew Formano following a disagreement about a fundraising game.

Mr. Lopez brought his complaint to the school after Coach Lopez punished players who had not participated in the fundraising event by keeping them from practicing with the team. According to California state law, students cannot be required to participate in fundraising activities.

Legal representative for the Lopez family Michael Ponce has claimed that Robbie’s extensive time spent on the bench constitutes an “abuse of the coach’s discretion.”

Ponce told the Valley Tribune, “It’s more of a targeted situation” than the routine use of a coach’s professional judgment. “These are repeated actions by the coach, which we — my client and I, as well as his father — feel are intentional. They’re targeted against [my client] specifically.”

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