MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A well-known local AAU youth sports coach says a teen tried to scam him at a grocery store — without realizing he was talking to a coach.
Bill Courtney, who as the coach of the Manassas High School football team was the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary Undefeated, said the teen approached him asking for money for his basketball team.
"I came out of the grocery store and a young man approached me with a flier and said he was trying to raise money for his AAU basketball team, and asked if I would give him some money," Courtney said.
It's not uncommon to see youth groups outside of a grocery store fundraising. What the young man wasn't expecting was to run across an actual AAU coach of more than 20 years.
"I asked the young man, 'Where's your coach?' and he said, 'He's not here.' I said, 'OK, where's your sponsor?' and he said, 'He's not here.'
"And I said, 'Would you give me your coach's name and phone number?' and he said, 'He's not here.'"
Courtney said he immediately knew it was a scam, but worries many others might let their guards down for kids.
"When a child walks up to you, it pulls on your heartstrings and it makes you want to give more, and I get it," he said.
So he made a post on NextDoor warning his neighbors and others not to be fooled, because there are plenty of legitimate youth groups in need of your support.
The red flags Courtney said to watch for are: are the kids unaccompanied, are they with a coach, are there other teammates around, and is it an organized event?
"Any dollar given to a scam is a dollar taken away from an organization or kids who could really use it," he said. "'I'm not saying don't give. In fact I'm saying we need to give more. I'm just saying let's not get conned by kids running around with a piece of paper in their pocket just trying to scrape a few bucks from you."