UPDATE: Variance to allow Lathrop child to play on soccer team a - KCTV5 News

UPDATE: Variance to allow Lathrop child to play on soccer team approved by league

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Cooper Walters Cooper Walters

UPDATE, 3/21 - Cooper Walters' parents contacted KCTV5 Thursday to say the Tri-County Soccer League has approved the variance to allow the 11-year-old to play on the U10 team.

In the interim, a former Lathrop Soccer Board member contacted KCTV5 to say that the fuss being made by Cooper’s parents and present members of the Lathrop Soccer Board was unfair.

Darel Abernathy said he was on the Lathrop Soccer Board in the Fall 2017 season and negotiated the variance for Cooper then.

He said the assertion by the Walters family and the current member of the Lathrop Board assumed that the fall variance would carry through to spring is misleading.

He said when he negotiated the variance in the fall, he drew up an informal document which Cooper’s mother, Dana Cooper, signed indicating she was aware she would have to have the variance renewed by following the SAY guidelines, which include submitting a doctor’s note about his disability. He did not have a copy of that document to provide. He said the local board secretary, who remains on the board, kept the document in the local board files.

He also explained the reason there is a formal process, including a current doctor’s note, for a variance to play in a younger age category.

He said Cooper is not a danger to the younger kids, but the insurance company has concerns about injury to younger plays when an older child plays, and the league insists of a formal process in order to insure coverage.

The Tri-County Soccer Board provided none of these details to KCTV5 when contacted for a response on Sunday. Instead they would only say that a variance is allowed based on a set of rules and enumerate those rules.

Abernathe said the league was limited to what they could provide because there was a threat of a lawsuit against them. He, on the other hand, was no longer associated with either group.

It is worth noting he also indicated that he was no longer on the local board because of a dispute with other board members.


A local youth soccer club is crying foul over the treatment of an 11-year-old with a disability.

Several of Cooper Walters’ teammates came out to Lathrop’s soccer field to show their support for him - after the parent league, Tri-County Soccer, told him he couldn’t play this weekend because he was too old.

Cooper’s parents say he was allowed to play in the 8-10 age bracket in the fall because they submitted a doctor’s note and got approval from the league.

They assumed that approval would last through the school year, but the local board says the league told them it didn’t - and waited until the morning of the first game to say so.

His parents say he’s not physically or emotionally ready to play with 12-year-olds.

"Anybody who’s seen Cooper play understands he is in the correct age category," said Ian Walters, the boy's father. "He didn’t score a goal last year or the year before that. He kicked the ball maybe five times. This is more of a social outlet for him. It’s the only social outlet that he can be a part of because of his autistic tics." 

When we asked for a response, the Soccer Association for Youth league told KCTV5:

“We are a SAY affiliated league and will allow the child to play down and age division once SAY organizational Rules are satisfied.”

They gave four criteria involving essentially the same process as the family says they went through in the fall.

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