Nassau County's top high school football player, Billy Andrle, says he was unfairly kicked off the East Meadow team after suffering a broken right wrist days before the season started.
Andrle, a senior who plays linebacker and running back, won last year's Thorp Award, given to the top football player in Nassau. He was a top candidate to win the award again before suffering the injury during a team practice in August.
"If I could play tomorrow, I would," Andrle said. "But my mom doesn't want me to risk permanent injury and that makes sense."
His mother, Donna Andrle, said in an interview, "They were willing to build a player's cast to protect him. But we weren't comfortable with that and there was no guarantee that he would not get hurt again. The risk was too high because he's a fullback and a middle linebacker and there's always contact so the risk is always there. And we were told that another hit could cause permanent damage, loss of mobility and arthritis."
Andrle says that when he informed the team's coach, Vinny Mascia, that he could not play, Mascia told him not to return to the team.
"Coach Mascia sat me down in the gym and asked me if my decision not to play was final and I said 'yes,' " Andrle said. "He told me to clean out my locker and don't come to practice anymore because you can find better things to do with your time. I was crushed."
Neither Mascia nor the East Meadow School District returned calls for comment.
Andrle says that Mascia told the team that Andrle quit.
"We want people to know that he did not quit the team," Donna Andrle said. "He was told to clean out his locker . . . Billy asked if he could still be with the team on the sidelines like the other injured players and he was told no."
Attorney Tom Liotti said at a news conference in Garden City yesterday that Mascia "unfairly threw him off the team."
Later, Liotti told Newsday that he planned to file a notice of claim against East Meadow school officials.
"He was not treated with the honor and respect that a top athlete deserves," Liotti said. "It's not the way you treat a star. This damages his reputation and prospects for college. They called him a quitter."