GORHAM — Seven seniors and their head coach have been removed from the Gorham boys’ lacrosse team in the wake of player protests about the coach’s demeanor.

The coach, Clayton Jones, was “asked not to return to the team” on Wednesday, said Gorham Schools Superintendent Heather Perry, a day after the team initially refused to board a bus for a game against Waynflete School in Portland. They were prepared to forfeit the game if Jones was not removed as the coach, said Bode Coleman, one of the team’s three captains.

Bode Coleman

The team was persuaded by the school’s athletic director, Tim Spear, to get on the bus, Coleman said. But he and six other seniors were removed from the team on Thursday because they left the field of play during the game after being told they would not be allowed to play. At the start of the second quarter they walked to the other side of the field, sat on the hillside with their parents and cheered for their team, Coleman said.

Perry said players removing themselves from the field of play during the course of a game without approval of the coaching staff is a violation of team expectations.

Getting the silent treatment from Jones, the team’s coach since 2018, was common, Coleman said.

“What he would really do, a lot of the time, if he was angry with you he would completely ignore you. He would act like you weren’t there and then just give you this harsh stare, like trying to intimidate us. That was one of the worst things.


“He always blames everything on the players. He never takes blame for  anything he’s ever done. So what he’ll do is call us bad players, bad captains, things like that,” Coleman added. “He just puts it all on us, which I don’t think that’s what a coach should do.”

Coleman said he and other team members tried to speak to Jones about their concerns.

“He would always just bounce it off. Deflect. Always the problem was with the players. It was never a problem with him.”

Jones did not respond to email requests for an interview that were sent to both his Gorham school address and his work address at the Bruce Whittier Middle School in Poland, where he teaches science.

Spear, who was not at the Waynflete game, referred all questions to Perry, the superintendent. Perry did not specify why Jones was removed, citing in an email that employee and student confidentiality rules limit the details she could provide.

The team’s seniors had been told on Monday that they would not be playing the during first quarter of the Waynflete game, Coleman said. This was apparently a punishment for going against Jones’ wishes and wearing eye-black during the previous game on Senior Night, Gorham’s final home game on May 24.


Coleman said wearing eye black for the game was the seniors’ first organized “peaceful protest.” According to Coleman and his parents, Jones’ response was to refuse to speak to the seniors for the rest of that game or during the next day’s practice. Then Jones did not show up for practice Friday, they said.

On Tuesday, the entire team stood outside the bus before the game at Waynflete, refusing to board.

“Everybody was 100 percent. We had a meeting before and I made sure every single person, I talked to them individually, and I asked them if they had any questions, any concerns, and not a single person said they wanted him as their coach,” Coleman said. “I had to make sure everyone was on board with that. This was a team decision. This wasn’t a me decision. This wasn’t a senior decision. This was the whole team.”

Before the second quarter, a Gorham assistant coach informed the seniors that they would not be playing against Waynflete. The team has 12 seniors and five of them remained on the sidelines during the game.

Coleman said at that point he felt he needed to remove himself from the team area as another sign of protest – and for his own safety.

“I was pretty certain it was the right thing to do because Spear wasn’t making changes and I felt it was a change that needed to be made,” Coleman said. “I felt I needed to make a change and make a peaceful protest and I didn’t feel comfortable on that sideline anymore. Put some distance between me and (Jones) and the guys went with me.”


Coleman’s father, Jesse, said the continued suspension of the seven seniors, especially in the wake of Jones’ removal as coach, is “unbelievably infuriating.”

“There is a clear track history of problems,” Jesse Coleman said. “It had become so bad, these boys felt so cornered that they felt the only option was to resist playing for him. These boys peacefully protested and responsibly protested and they (were) punished for doing so.”

Joshua Graham has had a son in the Gorham lacrosse program the past five seasons. His older son, Jacob, graduated in 2022 and Lucas is a freshman this season. Graham said Jones’ removal as coach is reason to exonerate the players who demonstrated against him and return them to the team.

“It strikes me as continued punishment for standing up to the administration of the school,” said Graham, a former assistant lacrosse coach at Lewiston, Portland and Scarborough high schools.

“If the parents and players are wrong with the statements they are saying, where’s Tim Spear and Heather Perry to rebut those statements?” Graham asked.

Without Jones or the seven suspended seniors, Gorham finished its regular season on Thursday, losing 14-8 at Windham. The loss dropped Gorham to 12th in the Maine Principals’ Association’s Class A lacrosse standings, the final playoff qualifying spot. The official playoff schedule has not been released but it is likely Gorham, with a record of 5-9, will play at Lewiston on Wednesday in a preliminary round playoff game. Assistant coach Zachary Bryant will be the coach in charge, Perry said.


Bode Coleman intends to play lacrosse in college at NCAA Division II Southern New Hampshire University.

As he watched his former team run through a light practice on Friday, he explained why he spoke up.

“Those guys out there, I love a lot of those guys and they’re my teammates and I wanted to do what’s right for them, and what’s best for them. I wanted to help out these guys because that’s what’s best for them. Having the coach gone.”


Comments are not available on this story.