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Teen volleyball player serves up lawsuit over playing time

Disputes between parents and youth sports leagues are going from the field to court
Disputes between parents and youth sports lea... 03:08

In today's world of youth sports, families are investing time and money so that their kids can play in elite travel and tournament club teams.

But these days Audrey Dimitrew, 16, isn't spending her time on the volleyball court, she's in legal court. Her family is suing the Chesapeake Region Volleyball Association after it blocked Audrey from playing with another team, reports CBS News correspondent Julianna Goldman.

"It was almost my whole life. It's what I did. It would be a pretty big deal for them to just take it away from me," Audrey said.

In November, the 10th grader tried out for several clubs and received a number of offers. She accepted one with the Chantilly Juniors. But after the first tournament in January, Audrey and her mother said she had a falling out with the coach.

"It just became unhealthy and hard for her to stay on the team," her mother said. "There was definitely bad chemistry, bad connection there."

"We both, in the end, agreed it wasn't the best fit; it happens," Audrey added. "So we assumed, 'OK let's go somewhere else.'"

The Dimitrews found another team with a spot on its roster and had her coach's blessing to switch, but the league said no.

They claimed the dispute was over "playtime" and a league official told the family in a written statement they could not move players "unhappy with the amount of playtime they are receiving" or they would be "overwhelmed with requests to change teams."

"It wasn't about playing time, it was about playing. She wants to play," Audrey's mother said.

Youth sports has become increasingly litigious, and after the league denied their appeal, the Dimitrews filed the lawsuit.

"When you see lawsuits, it's really a symptom of deeper problems in youth sports," sports management professor Mark Hyman said.

He has authored several books on student athletes.

''Seventy percent of children are dropping out of organized youth sports by age 13. 70 percent I think is remarkable and disturbing," Hyman said. "The number one thing kids want from sports is to have fun and be with their friends and too often as adults we forget about that."

The Dimitrews say that's what they're fighting for.

"It started in about sixth grade and it's just become really fun," Audrey said. "I've had such a great experience so far that it would seem really strange to just stop playing."

Audrey's team declined to be interviewed, but provided a statement to CBS News saying: "The Chantilly Club is happy to work with her within the club, and is also happy to support her if she can move to another club." The league declined to comment, citing the lawsuit.

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