Family issues summer camp warning amidst legal battle with Notre Dame
The story of John-Vincent Louis is a reminder, a difficult one, about the risk parents and children take when they send their child to summer camp.
The reality is that you can never really know who you are entrusting your child with and you can never truly understand the effect that a negative experience can have on their life.
That’s the reality John-Vincent Louis and his mother Michelle live in.
Struggling amidst a legal battle with Notre Dame and the visions of what might have been.
“I've been going down a really difficult path. I've had to be admitted into a psychiatric hospital, I'm still continuing to receive therapy, I'm on several antidepressant, anti-anxiety medications and I struggle with depression on a daily basis,” said John-Vincent during an interview with 47 ABC’s Ryan Eldredge.
John-Vincent’s life wasn’t supposed to play out this way, waiting for legal battles to end. It was supposed to play out on the football field, with a chance to put Saint Michaels, Maryland on the map.
But in the summer of 2013, at a Notre Dame football camp, the then 17-year-old's career came to an end.
“I was happy to be at Notre Dame playing football for the coaches, getting compliments getting questions,” said John-Vincent. “I just remember… All of a sudden I just felt the ground underneath me give out and I slipped and I came right down on my knee.”
John-Vincent’s P-C-L was torn and although he didn't know it, his knee would never be the same and his mind would never be the same.
“Nobody really wants to live with, what if. What if I hadn't gotten hurt, could I have gotten that scholarship? Would I have been at a different school? Would I have had a job already? I just have to live with the what if every single day,” said John-Vincent.
But John-Vincent’s physical struggle, the surgery, the recovery, and his injury-plagued senior season at Blair Academy are only a part of the story.
“It wasn't what they advertised,” said mother Michelle while talking about the football camp at Notre Dame. “They advertised the big beautiful field they were going to come play on it and they arrive and it's like pit city.”
For more than four years now, the entire Louis' family has been locked in a legal battle with one of the country's largest catholic institutions.
“I don't know any parent that doesn't know Notre Dame that would've thought their children were in good hands especially under those kind of circumstances,” said Michelle.
The lawsuit, even a recent summary judgement that ruled in their favor, highlight the poor playing surface that John-Vincent and others were on, in addition to the questionable actions of the adults tasked with caring for the young men at the football camp.
“Just because you sign that waiver that doesn't mean that gives them permission to new grossly neglect your child,” said Michelle.
At issue is the response of those adults who allegedly left John-Vincent suffering on a dorm room floor for hours before they helped or gave him permission to seek medical attention.
“It's horrible because you want as a mother you always want your child if they were injured taken care of,” said Michelle.
Aside from the compensation they are fighting for and the apology that John-Vincent feels he is owed, it is the family's hope that others learn from their misfortune.
“There's a lot of kids out there who have some other dreams like me and I want to make sure that they are protected as well, they are taken care of and have a better shot at achieving their goals,” said John-Vincent.
The Louis' family says it's important that families look into the programs, facilities, and organizations tasked with monitoring their children over the summer months and if possible Michelle suggests moms and dads do some digging or go in-person, because a flyer, website, or brochure can be deceiving.
“I mean the message is just be really aware because if this can happen at Notre Dame it could happen anywhere,” said Michelle.
John-Vincent has received threats and disgusting messages on Facebook since news of the family's lawsuit was made public.
He tells 47 ABC that it has contributed to his depression, but he is hopeful that a resolution in this case will be the thing he needs to put the past behind him, to move forward.
47 ABC did reach out to Notre Dame for comment, University Spokesman Dennis K. Brown replied, “We have no comment on what is pending litigation.”