• Report: #790539

Complaint Review: Chicago Jrs Volleyball Club

  • Submitted: Wed, October 19, 2011
  • Updated: Sun, October 14, 2012

  • Reported By: ChicagoDad — South Side Illinois United States of America
Chicago Jrs Volleyball Club
10200 S. Tripp Ave Oak Lawn, Illinois United States of America

Chicago Jrs Volleyball Club Claire Donahue Unsafe Coaching, Poor Instruction ; Cancelled Tournaments and no refunds ; Questionable Business Practices Oak Lawn, Illinois

*Consumer Comment: True Report

*General Comment: Advocate of Chicago Jrs and Claire Donahue

*Consumer Comment: Another Former Player Abused

*Consumer Comment: This Report is 100% True

*General Comment: Have we all lost our perspective!

*Consumer Comment: Former player

*UPDATE Employee: Chicago Jrs Volleyball Club Report FALSE!

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Chicago Jrs is a volleyball club located in southwest suburban Chicago.  Under the direction of Claire Donahue, the club originally operated out of Evergreen Park, IL and now operates out of Oak Lawn, IL.  A check of the clubs former and current addresses shows both locations as single-family residences.  At its core, Chicago Jrs is a home-based business.   The clubs website states that the club was founded in 1989.  

My daughter played for one of the Chicago Jrs teams in the 2011 season. She was on the floor nearly 100% of the time, so my extremely negative impression of this club is not based on her playing time. Rather, my comments reflect the business practices exhibited by Chicago Jrs; the poor (and sometimes dangerous) quality of coaching that was received; the failure of Chicago Jrs to deliver on all promised services; and the disregard for IHSA rules.  (The IHSA is the Illinois High School Association, which is the governing body for Illinois high school athletics and activities.)

Before joining this club, parents of prospective players must understand that the club volleyball experience particularly that provided by Chicago Jrs - is a business.   Using information from the Chicago Jrs 2010-2011 website and handbook, it was simple math to calculate that the club had 84 players who paid nearly $135,000 to play volleyball.  Allow for slightly lower fees in previous years, then expand the revenue stream to cover the years since 1989, and Chicago Jrs has likely raked in revenue exceeding $2,000,000 (two million dollars) since its inception.

Where did all that money go?  The club does pay tournament entry fees, coaches salaries (hopefully with matching payroll taxes), modest equipment fees and administrative expenses.  Chicago Jrs fees do not cover registration with the volleyball governing organizations, uniforms, kneepads, equipment bags, out of state tournaments, or hotel / travel.  All of those fees, which are paid directly to the club director, are extra.  The extra $80 uniform fee provides 2 jerseys, spandex shorts, and knee pads.  The actual cost of these items is roughly $40 at retail, so the club director is pocketing at least $40 per player on the uniform fees.  Many of the players also purchase an equipment bag at a cost of $40 (actual cost around $25), so the profit to Claire Donahue on the bags is at least $15 per bag.  (Please note that the retail prices quoted ($40 for uniforms and $25 for the bag) were from an online sports equipment provider.  Chicago Jrs would be ordering by quantity - making the actual cost of goods lower and Claire Donahues profit higher.)

There is no problem with a business owner making a profit.  However, there is a huge potential problem when an ongoing business concern fails to follow standard business practices. 

Point #1: Sales tax was not charged on the goods that Chicago Jrs sold to its players.  Since the items were sold at a considerable markup, the club is required to collect and forward sales taxes to local, county, and state revenue departments.   In addition, the profit on the markup of goods is taxable income.

 Point #2:   Although it has been an ongoing business concern for more than two decades, Chicago Jrs is not registered as a corporation or LLC with the Illinois Secretary of State, or Cook County, IL.  Similarly, the club is not registered with the Indiana Secretary of State.  The club has no known status as a 501c Non-Profit Corporation.  Therefore, it is not legally organized as a non-profit organization.  It is acknowledged that a business can operate as a sole proprietorship.  Given that Chicago Jrs deals with young people engaged in a rigorous sport, it would be very unwise and legally risky to operate as a sole proprietorship.

It is standard practice in most cases required by law - for ongoing business concerns to register with local, state, and federal agencies.  Since Chicago Jrs is not registered with any of these agencies, it is extremely unlikely that income statement s detailing revenue and expenses have been filed.  The income statement would need to include the aforementioned profit on uniforms and equipment bags.  If Chicago Jrs is being operated as a sole proprietorship, then the revenue stream and club expenses should be reflected in the club directors personal income tax returns.

Given the current budget shortfalls at the county, state, and federal levels, this is information that government agencies would like to know.  All that is needed is a whistleblower.  The whistle has been blown.  The appropriate forms and details have been forwarded to the Cook County Department of Revenue, the Illinois State Department of Revenue, and the United States Internal Revenue Service.  (When combined with a few free internet searches, a cancelled check containing the clubs bank name and account number provided the necessary data requested by the government.)  If everything has been accurately reported, then the club director has no worries.

It is now time to address the coaching.  There is no evidence that any of the Chicago Jrs coaches possess coaching licenses.  No evidence that they have taken and passed a basic first aid course.  No evidence that they have had any training in the teaching of young people.   The main qualification for being a Chicago Jrs coach is that at some point in your life you played the game of volleyball.  It is acknowledged that some of the coaches teach the game well and provide a good experience for their players.

Unfortunately, the coaching provided to my daughter and her teammates during the 2011 season was dreadful.   The coach was disinterested and often disengaged during matches.  It was obvious to anyone watching that she was simply going through the motions and collecting her paycheck. 

Bad coaching though completely unacceptable pales in comparison to dangerous coaching.   During an early season match, a player took a particularly hard fall on the court.  Moments later, the same player slammed into a wall trying to retrieve an errant pass.  The result of these two incidents was a concussion.  The coach, however, kept the player in the lineup for the remainder of the match and into the subsequent match, which started an hour later.  Only when the player showed signs of disorientation did the coach remove her from the match.  The players two hard falls, dilated pupils, and complaints of a bad headache were not enough to alert the coach that something was seriously wrong. 

Maybe the coach should not be held fully responsible.  It is possible that she was merely reflecting the philosophy of club director Claire Donahue.  During one tournament, a player tried to play despite being injured.  The player had difficulty walking, and played as long as possible before withdrawing.  The onsite trainer as well as an ER doctor declared her out for the remainder of the tournament. 

What was club director Claire Donahues response to this incident?  According to the club director, the player should have toughed it out and had abandoned her team by not playing.  This type of thinking used to be reserved for football and hockey coaches of bygone eras.  Unfortunately, this Neanderthal thought process is alive and well at Chicago Jrs Volleyball Club.  For the record, two Chicago Jrs players finished the tournament mentioned above in wheelchairs.

In addition, the Chicago Jrs Volleyball Club does not always provide its members with a full schedule of tournaments.  In the beginning of the season, a schedule of league and tournament dates is published and provided to the teams.  In 2011, at least one of the teams had multiple tournaments cancelled. The same events transpired in the previous (2010) season.  Cancellations of tournaments by the club did not result in refunds to club members.  Therefore, it can be assumed that the fees earmarked for tournaments remained in the clubs coffers.  It is also curious that the cancelled tournaments have always occurred toward the end of the season.  This could be indicative of fiscal mismanagement and cash-flow issues with this business.

Finally, the club does not abide by the rules of the IHSA.  At least one player actively involved in her respective schools volleyball season attended tryouts last year.  In past seasons, Chicago Jrs has fielded teams and held practices that jeopardize players high school eligibility.  Chicago Jrs is either ignorant of the IHSA rules or does not care to abide by them.  Possible harm to the players does not matter as long as the cash register rings. 

Taking all of these issues into account does not paint a very pretty picture of the Chicago Jrs Volleyball Club.  If your child still plays for this organization, it is hoped that they have a good experience.  If you are considering joining Chicago Jrs as a new member, please reconsider and find another club.  However, after reading this account, if you still insist on joining this organization and you / your daughter find yourselves in the midst of a long, expensive, miserable season, dont say you werent warned!

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 10/19/2011 11:30 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Chicago-Jrs-Volleyball-Club/Oak-Lawn-Illinois-60453/Chicago-Jrs-Volleyball-Club-Claire-Donahue-Unsafe-Coaching-Poor-Instruction-Cancelled-T-790539. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 Consumer Comment

True Report

AUTHOR: former player - (USA)

I used to play at Juniors a couple years back and can admit that this report is true. At Juniors, I was constantly pushed to my breaking point and was forced to play through many injuries that still are painful to me years later. There was a comment mentioned where are the parents and the truth is the coaches and Claire told us we shouldn't tell our parents these things and parents were separated from their players at tournaments and hotels. There were actually a couple tournaments where our coach banned us from talking to our parents saying we needed more team bonding, which wasn't the case. The club fees are so expensive for the quality of play and you're lucky if you get three good players on your team total. Claire and her staff didn't do anything to help the players find college offers even though some had the talent, but it was all on the player to figure out the recruiting process. Also, one person mentioned that we've lost our perspective on club volleyball because it's supposed to be challenging and competitive, and while I agree that this person's outlook on club volleyball is correct, Chicago Juniors doesn't fit this mold. Even the players who are currently playing in college from Juniors are either not getting play time or getting tons of playing time at schools that don't win more than 5 games all year...not exactly quality volleyball from Juniors alums. Don't waste your money on bad coaching, stolen money and a crazy director. It's not worth it. Plus, if you play at another club, you'll be able to walk away without being injured and hopefully actually know the game of volleyball. Stay away from Claire and Juniors and you'll thank me later.

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#2 General Comment

Advocate of Chicago Jrs and Claire Donahue

AUTHOR: Advocate of Chicago Jrs - ()

These accusations are absolutely ludicrous and the farthest from the truth. Chicago Jrs Volleyball Club and Claire Donahue have shown over many, many years nothing but professionalism and quality instruction for their players. They are highly respected by many parents, players, other club directors/coaches, college coaches and Regional board members in the Great Lakes Region.  

Claire Donahue is very dedicated in running a quality program, with quality staff and is passionate in making sure that every experience is a positive experience for all members in the club. Without hesitation, I highly recommend Chicago Jrs!

26 Years and Going Strong!!   Go Juniors!!

 

 

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#3 Consumer Comment

Another Former Player Abused

AUTHOR: ChiJrs Hitter - ()

I am writing as a player who used to play volleyball and quit due to the abusive coaching at Chicago Jrs. During my time I played every minute of every match and at times was forced to play when injured. As a player I was often screamed at during practice, cussed out by the director and was subjected to further verbal abuse. I played at Queen of Peace last season as well under Jrs coach Megan Jones who would berate players regularly and turned into a "positive" coach when the AD came around. What was worse was her assistant coach who was a former jrs player and aspiring coach, Kara Zuro, verb even  more verbally abusive. Luckily they are out of QoP, what they should know if they read this is that I'm planning on contacting the authorities for their actions.

As a jrs player I was forced to play injured and was not surprised by the previous reports. The club has abusive and poor fundamental coaching. It is by no means tough coaching. They only care about money and a fraudulent reputation as an elite club. I only hope that this club goes under quickly so the poor coaching there ends and the safety of girls there is no longer in question.

 

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#4 Consumer Comment

This Report is 100% True

AUTHOR: Former CJVBC Player - ()

As a former player for Chicago Juniors, I can firmly say that this report is absolutely true. I have experienced a horrific Juniors experience, as well as many of my friends. I know at least 10 extremely talented players who have left the club due to the poor experience. 

To establish my credibility, I have received acknowledgment as a great player and leader on my high school and club teams in Illinois. I have a college volleyball scholarship. My year with Juniors was interesting to say the least. I was injured throughout most of the season, which my coach and Claire ignored completely. At Juniors, I was on a Jade team, where we won only 1 tournament. With the club I switched to, we have won at least 7 championships, not to mention, placing much higher than Juniors in every tournament they were in similar to us. I am not writing this to be bitter about this club, after all, it shaped me into a leader who stands up for myself and my teammates and has taught me that life isn't always fair. Also, this club made me realize what great coaching is, after leaving Juniors and being on successful teams after due to positive coaching. I am writing this so no one can have the same experience I did without a warning. No one should break down crying due to her coach and club director, and no one should have to choose between their health and team. No one should have to hate volleyball due to their club and feel like quitting due to a miserable experience. 

Many of the positive reports come from those who are no longer involved in the club. But this is the truth: the Juniors of the past is not the Juniors of today. Juniors used to be a high-level club, that prepared girls for college scholarships. Now, Juniors has fallen so much and is surviving on reputation alone (a reputation that is rapidly diminishing). As the "former player" rebuttals have stated how much CJVBC has helped them, that was the past. In the 2012/2013 season, all of the talented 18 year old players left the club for others, due to terrible coaching and being fed up with Claire Donahue's scam. Let me ask you this, if this club is so wonderful at preparing girls for college scholarships, why did their 18 Jade team consist of only one senior and all the rest juniors in high school? This is not due to selective choice to put the most talented players on the team - they simply did not have 18 year olds try out. 

As for the Juniors' coach comment above, I know from firsthand experience that Claire Donahue completely ignores IHSA rules. On my team, there were 3 girls from my high school (against the rules). Claire knew we were from the same high school, but she did not care. Curiously enough, Claire even coached at a private school for the 2012/2013 season with another Juniors coach. Throughout that season, the players endured a miserable experience, many even going home crying every night and wanting to quit volleyball forever, one of whom actually is. This Juniors season, on the 15 Jade team, 4 players from that high school were on the same team, and you're trying to tell me that Claire respects IHSA rules and did not know about 4 players teel played on the school team she coached? Fun fact: Claire is "one and done" at that high school, where the players even conducted a meeting about verbal abuse and mistreatment used on them at practices and games. 

I am a fan of tough coaching - as a player, I thrive from it. But Claire's coaching is not tough. From her coaching, I watched girls' spirit and love for the game shatter, constantly afraid of being screamed at for a mistake, or being threatened to "run until you puke" for making one mistake in a game. I have also heard a story from a Dad who was a Juniors supporter for 6 years about how he saw Claire screaming at a 13 year old girl, backed up against a wall, and the girl crying her eyes out. This is not the experience girls should have with club volleyball. 

So I urge you, please look for other clubs out there - Celtic Force, 1st Alliance, Beverly VC - all of whom provide a much better experience and allow a player to compete on a more talented, more successful team. If you do play for Juniors, pray that Fred Gaeding is your coach (he is truly a terrific coach), otherwise don't say I never warned you. 

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#5 General Comment

Have we all lost our perspective!

AUTHOR: Well Informed Father - (United States of America)

Before I begin my comments praising Ms. Claire Donahue and her coaching staff at Chicago Juniors Volleyball Club, I would like to ask, when did we lose perspective on important things and lose sight of the bigger picture. Club volleyball and all other club sports are designed to provide young people opportunities to grow, yes, in a particular sport, but through that growth in so many ways to better prepare them for future studies and professions and life. Why do we get so bogged down in obvious ego driven tirades that we blow everything up and destroy the very nature of a good thing. In my opinion this has been the sad growing trend in club sports these past few years. Club sports is a guarantee of Nothing!, it provides opportunities for young people to either take advantage of or not. Lessons and techniques are taught, if they are received is another matter. It provides a vehicle to see if they can be competitive and excel at volleyball or what ever or perhaps not and then find other things to excel at. It is all about a caring and competitive environment, all of which has been provided by Ms. Claire Donahue at Chicago Juniors Volleyball for a long time.

I would like to offer this report in support of Claire Donahue and her staff at Chicago Juniors Volleyball Club. Both of my volleyball playing daughters were fortunate enought to have gone through the Chicago Juniors system. They learned a great deal about volleyball, competition, committment, and life. They are still in contact with many of their team mates, a benefit of the atmosphere this club creates.

As parents, my wife and I enjoy running into some of the other parents around the area, as we recall the memories of times spent together at the many venues during a club season. I am employed at a university and assist the athletic department, I can say with certainty that the specific volleyball skills and mental and competitive toughness they acquired allowed them to compete at the highest levels of NCAA volleyball and enjoy a success I am not sure they would have without the training and discipline provided by their Chicago Juniors coaches.

There are so many options in club sports today, from the very large impersonal assembly line club where the personal development of the individual player may not be valued to the very small limited team and season clubs where personal attention is very important but the quality of the instruction and competition may be lacking. Chicago Juniors Volleyball Club occupies a valuable place in the middle of the market, providing quality instruction and competition without losing the personal feeling and attention our young people crave.

This isn't brain surgery folks! The adults are the ones who lose all perspective. The purpose of all of this energy should be to provide an environment for young people to play and develop in the game of volleyball, without having to give up their youth to do it. I feel Chicago Juniors Volleyball has and still provides such an environment.
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#6 Consumer Comment

Former player

AUTHOR: Former player - (United States of America)

I have read what this (obviously bitter) person wrote about Claire Donahue and her club. I was shocked to say the least that someone would go to such measures to discuss a club/business, from what it appears, they really know nothing about.

I was fortunate to play for this club for three years in high school under the guidance of Claire and her very knowledgable coaches. I was also fortunate to play with some of the top athletes in the state. I was/am proud to be apart of the Chicago Jrs family. I received a scholarship and played at the D1 level as well as many of my teammates from Jrs.

I know many of the current/past coaches working for Claire - many of whom have been there for years. They've stayed with Claire, under her direction, due to her professionalism and business sense. The coaches I had at Jrs are some of the best coaches, who are still coaching today, that ive ever had.

Any business, sports or corporation, don't stay in business this day and age unless they know what they are doing and people believe in their product. Claire has the same focus today as she did when I played - she teaches the core of the game, makes girls work hard and see the rewards. Her staff may all have different teaching styles, but don't all sports?

Claire has a family herself and not once since I've known her has she ever put anyone in jeopardy or risk just to play. Plus, don't these girls have parents? Ultimately, isn't it the parents job to regulate their daughter?

She runs a business and if you know anything about club (or any small business for that matter) you know she doesn't get paid nearly enough for the extra hours scheduling teams, meeting with coaches, making teams food on trips, making sure each team are in appropriate tournaments, making travel accommodations for players and parents, dealing with unreasonable parents... My list could go on and on but I think you get my drift.

Again, I don't think any business stays in business this long if it truly is as horrible as this person makes it seem. Look all around the south/southwest suburbs for the last 25 plus years and you will notice a trend... Most of the best volleyball players in this area have been apart of the Jrs vb family.

Sincerely, A girl who owes a lot to Claire Donahue, her staff and her club
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#7 UPDATE Employee

Chicago Jrs Volleyball Club Report FALSE!

AUTHOR: Garcia - (United States of America)

I am a coach at Chicago Jrs. Volleyball club.  When I discovered this report I was shock by this man's accusations.  Shocked because Chicago Jrs. has been in business for 27years and has never had one bad report.  In fact, Chicago Jrs. has a very outstanding reputation in the southwest side volleyball community.

I'd like to break down this "gentleman's" points:

1.  Regarding the sales tax on the goods sold.  Yes, there is a markup.  This is America.  We have the right to provide goods and services to customers for whatever price we feel is fair.  Take into consideration when t-shirts, sweats, bags, etc are produced, the items are bought from a manufacturer and shipped to the screen printer/embroiderer.  From there, they are shipped to the seller.  Who do you think is paying for this?  Not the manufacturer or screen printer, but the seller.  The seller also has to pay for the shipping cost and sales tax that is already included in the price.  When tax season comes, these items are reported. 

That's another thing I'm confused about.  Do you have actual proof that Claire has not filed taxes.  If you do, I'd like to see them because she sends me tax forms every year so I can file my income from her company!

2. Regarding her sole proprietorship, what business of it is yours how Chicago Jrs. has been set up with the state?  I used to own my own business and my accountant advised me on how to file.  He made sure I filed in a way that if I were to be sued, nobody could sue me personally.  Therefore, my home and personal accounts were protected.  Did you ever think that maybe Claire set up Jrs. in a way that works for her?

3. Coaching

In order for me to coach for USA Volleyball, AAU or IHSA, I needed to become certified and screened in several areas.  Here's my list:

Virtus Certified - VIRTUS is the brand name that identifies best practices programs designed to help prevent wrongdoing and promote "rightdoing" within religious organizations.

ASEP Certified - American Sports Education Program.  ASEP is committed to improving amateur sport by encouraging coaches, officials, administrators, parents, and athletes to embrace the 'athletes first, winning second' philosophy and by providing the education to put the philosophy to work.

Double-Goal Coaching Certified (AAU Requirement).  Double-Goal Coaches have two goals, winning and more importantly, teaching life lessons through sports.

Impact Certified (USAV Requirement). Increased Mastery and Professional Application of Coaching Theory.

Accurate Biometrics - Fingerprinting that is on file with the Government.

DCFS Certified Mandated Reporter (that means I am certified to report abuse by following a certain protocol)

CPR/Defibulator Certified - American Red Cross.

Therefore, sir, I feel I am more than qualified to coach volleyball at the grade school level, high school level and college level.  My colleagues are more than qualified as well.  

Regarding coaching style.  Each coach has their own style.  Some are yellers, some don't say much.  If the coach you are referring to was one that did not say much, did it ever cross your mind that this is her style of coaching?  Just because a coach is not yelling and screaming at players, does not mean they are not interested or "going through the motions".  This is their "style".  

Finally, regarding not abiding by the IHSA rules, your statement is false.  If the athlete was still in season and physically tried out, then she was not up front and honest with Claire regarding her H.S. team.  If this athlete was in attendance but sat out, this is perfectly legal.

I think it would have been wise for you to do your homework before writing such outlandish reports.  This report is all speculation and sour grapes for some reason or another.  


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