Volleyball team's college dreams get spikedPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX - College sports are the pie in the sky for any high school athlete.
These volleyball players say they know, the key to getting to the next level is catching a recruiter's eye.
The best way to do that was joining the Kamali'i traveling volleyball team, or so teammate Jessica Dow thought.
“High school volleyball is fun but unless you go and travel you're not gonna get seen,” Jessica said.
To be on the team, parents of the then high school seniors each paid about $2,500.
The money was supposed to finance trips to tournaments in Las Vegas and Hawaii, which could've given the girls a
chance to get noticed.
But Jessica says she and teammates like Natalie Geiger quickly fell off recruiters’ radars when the trips never came through.
“I feel horrible for my parents, the fact that they had to pay that and lost it,” Natalie said.
Nine months after the tournaments, parents tell 3 On Your Side they're not sure exactly what happened to their money, and they're still trying to get it back.
“Now this team is back in business and they're holding tryouts Saturday, and could potentially do this to another group of parents and we don't want that to happen,” parent Cathy Dow said.
3 On Your Side wanted to ask Kamali'i's new owner about the missing money when he arrived at tryouts in Queen Creek on Saturday.
Although Veto Baker says he wasn't in charge last year, he is the father of one of the women who was, Pele Baker.
In fact, we're told Pele lives with her parents at a home in Chandler, the same home that state records show the volleyball club has been operating out of all along.
While Veto was, at first, apprehensive about speaking with us, he did eventually answer our questions, saying his volleyball club is completely separate from his daughter's, and he shouldn't be blamed for something she did.
“I feel I'm getting slapped in the face. I didn't do anything wrong, because my name's not Pele Baker, it's Veto Baker, I'm the dad,” Veto said.
Parents tell 3 On Your Side Pele Baker has since signed an agreement promising a payment of $250 will be made every two weeks.
While some parents take comfort their children were able to play for college teams, others wonder what could've been.