By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon
A local youth baseball team received a pleasant surprise last week.
Two businesses chipped in to help the Oklahoma Warriors, an 8U baseball team, get ready for the upcoming fall season after a former coach allegedly stole money that was meant for uniforms.
Johnny Freeze, a company that sells frozen treats at Bouse Sports Complex in Choctaw, agreed to sponsor the team’s new jerseys. And Academy Sports in Midwest City offered to pay for $1,000 worth of new gear. Each player received a $100 shopping spree on Thursday.
The team and their families loaded up on baseball gloves, pants, socks and more during the event.
The team formerly known as the Oklahoma Hitmen are a Harrah baseball team that plays in the Choctaw-Midwest City Youth Sports League.
Parents paid more than $2,000 to their former coach to buy uniforms for the past spring season. Most parents paid $185 for uniforms and some paid $310 for uniforms and a custom bag.
Julie Cox, one of the parents, said the uniforms never arrived so they ended up buying customized t-shirts for the boys to wear. Cox said the former coach eventually produced an invoice for ‘Fast
Five Sports Appeal.’ The invoice included a business address in Houston, Texas, a ZIP code in Alabama and a phone number for a Mexican restaurant.
“He told us that we had been scammed by this company, but we told him no, you made this up,” Cox said.
So far, only four of the 11 families have received a refund, Cox said. They filed a police report but do not plan to file a lawsuit due to the cost.
“It would end up costing us more to file a small claims lawsuit than we’d get back,” Cox said. “We’re a little team we don’t have that kind of money. We have single moms on our team. We took it as a lesson learned.”
The team cut ties with the coach and their old name.
Brandon Sullivan, Choctaw-Midwest City League Director, and Bouse Sports Complex Manager said he learned about the situation from one of the team parents.
“I just really wanted to help. I mean, to hear that happen to seven-year-old kids and an adult be responsible for that, especially a coach in our league, it was really important that we do something,” Sullivan told KFOR.
Sullivan reached out to community partners including Johnny Freeze. Ron Kolander, who owns the business and operates concessions in Choctaw and Midwest City, said he was happy to help.
“I’ve watched some of these young kids grow up playing ball and this is a way that I can help give back,” he said. “You hear horror stories about stuff like this happening and I knew we needed to give back.”
Josh Ryan, parks and recreation director for the City of Midwest City, said he reached out to Academy Sports for help. The sporting goods store was also glad to step in.
“They asked if we could help support the teams and we want kids to have fun out there and not have their parents worry about these expenses,” said Brooke Ouzts, regional marketing director for Academy Sports.
Cox and others expressed their appreciation for the donations.
“This is going to be a huge help,” she said. “Now we’re going into the fall season with our head held higher.”