LACEY — A clinically obese freshman football player suffered abuse, harassment and retaliation at the hands of his coaches, according to a lawsuit.

The civil complaint filed in late June states that the student-athlete was harassed for his weight repeatedly since his freshman year at Lacey Township High School in 2020. It says the player was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome at the age of 9 and his medication makes it more challenging to lose weight.

Filed by attorney Ryan Clark, the lawsuit accuses Head Coach Lou Vircillo and Assistant Coach Jack Bush of retaliating against the player for reporting the harassment.

Vircillo has been Lacey's head coach since 1981 and passed 300 career wins last season, according to Shore Sports Network. Bush has been at the Hall of Fame coach's side since 2009 and was honored with a Career Service Award in July.

Lacey head coach Lou Vircillo stands with Phil Simms after receiving the Ray McCrann Lifetime Achievement Award on Jun. 25, 2018. (Photo by Robert Badders/Townsquare Media NJ)
Lacey Head Coach Lou Vircillo receives the Ray McCrann Lifetime Achievement Award on Jun. 25, 2018. (Photo by Robert Badders/Townsquare Media NJ)
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According to the lawsuit, Bush told the player, identified only as A.G., in front of his teammates that he needed to lose weight. This started during summer practices in August 2020 and continued the entire season.

The comments became more aggressive during the student's sophomore year, the complaint says. Bush is accused of escalating further after the player spent nine days hospitalized with COVID-19 in September 2021.

"Man you got fat; what have you been doing? You need to lose weight," Bush told the student when returned to practice, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit adds that A.G.'s parents spoke with Coach Vircillo, the athletic director and the principal and were repeatedly promised that Bush would not be allowed at practices or on school grounds. However, Bush continued to attend even as a harassment intimidation and bullying investigation was underway.

Toward the end of the 2021 season, coaches stopped putting A.G. in plays during practices, according to the suit. He texted his mother that the "coaches had won" and that he no longer wanted to play football for Lacey.

A.G. stopped attending practice and was told by a coach to turn in his gear, according to the lawsuit. It says the lack of action to stop the harassment deprived A.G. "of his ability to participate in Lacey Township High School football program."

The lawsuit seeks damages and for Lacey to require coaches to undergo annual HIB training.

Rick Rickman is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at richard.rickman@townsquaremedia.com

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These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey

A trip to New Jersey doesn't have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible trails, waterfalls, and lakes to enjoy.

From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to the hidden gems of New Jersey, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is such a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it's a great workout.

Before you go out on the trails and explore some of our listeners' suggestions, I have some tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and run into an uphill hiker, step to the side and give the uphill hiker space. A hiker going uphill has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless they are marked as an official trail, steer clear of them. By going off-trail you may cause damage to the ecosystems around the trail, the plants, and wildlife that live there.

You also do not want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.

Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also yield to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you will encounter on the trails in New Jersey.
If you are thinking of bringing your dog on your hike, they should be leashed, and make sure to clean up all pet waste.

Lastly, be mindful of the weather, if the trail is too muddy, it's probably best to save your hike for another day.

I asked our listeners for their suggestions of the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions:

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