GORHAM, Maine — A group of seniors on Gorham High School's boys' lacrosse team missed the last two games of their regular season this week.
Parents and players told NEWS CENTER Maine this is all tied to "harassment and verbal abuse" from the coach.
"I’ve been playing lacrosse since I was about 9 or 10 years old," Gorham High School senior Bode Coleman said.
Coleman said he loves playing lacrosse in his hometown.
His dad, Jesse Coleman, said his son is among a group of players no longer on the school's team.
"This was a buildup over many years with ongoing issues with this particular coach," Jesse Coleman explained.
These are issues Jesse said the administration and athletic director had been made aware of.
"We were getting a lot of harassment and verbal abuse from our coach," Coleman said.
Recently, Coleman said he and other players wore eye black—the black strip athletes sometimes wear under their eyes—but their coach had a no-eye black policy.
"[The coach] punished us by throwing our next game," Coleman said. "He benched all the seniors."
It was during a game Tuesday when the seniors sent a clear, unified message to their coach.
"We were on the sideline after he said we weren’t going in. After that game we walked to the other side of the sideline to protest against our coach," Coleman said.
The protest is a move Gorham Superintendent Heather Perry said in a statement is "in violation of team expectations."
Coleman said the high school athletic director Tim Spear has since removed him and others from the team indefinitely for protesting.
"We wanted to stand up for what was right and that’s what we did," Coleman said.
Also off the team, the coach in question, who the superintendent said was asked to not come back.
"We have endured a really less-than-ideal situation, and it kept building and building like an avalanche ready to bust loose," Jesse said.
Neither the athletic director nor the former coach responded to NEWS CENTER Maine's multiple requests for comment.
"The Gorham Athletic program and the Gorham School Department maintain high expectations for all coaches, staff, and players," Perry said in a statement.