Zach Robertson and his Benedictine soccer teammates were preparing for a NAIA game against rival Baker in the fall of 2012 when the squad was gathered for a drill called “Domination” with the wrestling team.
“We went up to the wrestling practice room and we were told to let the wrestlers slam us,” Robertson said. “And they did, over and over again.”
The idea, Robertson was told, was to toughen up the team. But all Robertson got from the exercise was a torn labrum, a chipped clavicle and a separated shoulder, he said. The injuries ended his season.
Earlier this week, Robertson filed a complaint against Benedictine in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., claiming negligence and wanton and reckless conduct by the university and seeking $75,000 in damages.
“It was supposed to be a team-building exercise,” Robertson said. “But they beat the tar out of us.”
Robertson said his injuries happened partly because he was slammed to a part of the floor that wasn’t covered by a wrestling mat.
Benedictine president Steve Minnis said the university, located in Atchison, Kan., would not comment.
“We’ve seen the complaint but won’t comment on pending litigation,” he said.
The complaint names soccer coach Rob Herringer, who completed his ninth season at Benedictine in 2013, and wrestling coach Cy Wainwright, who became the wrestling coach at Coker College in Hartsville, S.C., in November 2012.
Robertson, who attended Johnson County Community College and Blue Valley West before Benedictine, said he and his family tried to work with the school over the medical issues. Robertson earned a degree from Benedictine in 2013.
“When we went to talk about it, we thought we were going to talk about how they were going to help me,” Robertson said. “But they were arguing about how it happened, saying they didn’t make us wrestle."
In the complaint, Robertson said the drill was mandatory.
“I wasn’t going to volunteer to wrestle. I never wrestled in my life,” Robertson said.