Thursday, September 9, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Court reinstates soccer association's board

Seattle Times Eastside bureau

A power struggle at an Eastside soccer association that banned a 15-year-old from practicing with his team for five months took an unusual twist yesterday.

King County Superior Court Commissioner Kimberley Prochnau issued a temporary order that returns power to the board of the Lake Washington Youth Soccer Association (LWYSA). Also reinstated was Executive Director Robert Young, a non-voting advisory board member.

Just last week the entire board was suspended for one year by state soccer authorities and was replaced by volunteer coaches and parents. But the original board sued.

Prochnau ordered the volunteers to hand back "all LWYSA documents, keys and other property." The case is due back in court for a full hearing Sept. 24.

The power struggle began after Kirkland dad Jim Harnasch questioned finances at the association in a manner that offended at least one staff member. The board effectively banned him, his wife and their 15-year-old son, Julian Harnasch, from games.

In response, the Washington State Youth Soccer Association ordered the board to reinstate the teen, then issued the suspensions after it felt the board did not comply fully and on time.

Reinstated board President John Graham said last night that the board took actions against the family to protect the staff member from verbal abuse, and that soccer clubs should retain the right to ban kids as a last resort if parents cannot act reasonably.

He said the board always intended to reinstate the teen before fall games began.

Jim Harnasch said he hopes the latest developments will have no effect on his son's ability to play. He said he was never given a chance to present his side of the story. He said most people in the organization have no confidence in board members, and he cannot understand why some are trying to cling to power.

"They have done nothing to benefit the kids whatsoever," Harnasch said. "They don't even apologize for torturing my kid for five months."

Volunteer leader Joel Hussey, a coach, said he wanted to help out after the suspensions and was taken aback by the court case. His pro bono attorneys would fight at the full hearing, he said.

Among the financial questions Harnasch raised were the salaries Lake Washington pays to Young and another executive. Combined, those compensation packages totaled $156,000 in 2002, according to federal nonprofit documents.

Three of the original board members — Ken Kirwan, Fred Diggs and Kevin Carder — resigned this week before the court ruling. Board members Graham, Jay Caldwell, Steve Webert and Kip Fawcett have been reinstated.

Nick Perry: 206-515-5639 or

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company


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