Editor’s note: This piece has been edited to further hide identities of those involved.
National championships, missing funds, and verbal abuse all sound like a headline ripped from an NCAA scandal but in fact are alleged to be happening at Erie high school. Erie cheer is winning competitions but beneath the surface, allegations of inappropriate behavior by head coach Nora Roth have emerged.
Roth is accused by multiple parents, student athletes, and local business owners of stealing money, displaying abusive behavior towards high school athletes, and being intoxicated at cheer events, among other things. Yellow Scene Magazine (YS) spoke with four families, two businesses and a local cheer coach to assess these claims. Several names have been changed to protect the anonymity of the sources.
Current and former cheerleaders, parents of cheerleaders, and members of the cheer community outside of Erie high school sent statements to St. Vrain Valley School District regarding Roth’s behavior which prompted an investigation. YS was able to both interview and review the statements from over half a dozen witnesses.
One adult was so shocked by behavior witnessed by Roth at a regional cheer event in 2022 that she stopped in her tracks. Roth was reportedly berating a cheerleader over her physical appearance. The statement reads: “Nora continued yelling, telling the young girl that she looked ‘like shit’ and like ‘a homeless person.’ Nora told the girl that she was ‘embarrassing the school’ and ‘should be ashamed.’ The girl was shaking and looking at the ground.”
“She would comment on the weight of cheerleaders,” former Erie cheerleader Courtney Giordano shared. She touched on other problematic and potentially dangerous behavior. “At Nationals she would be completely intoxicated at the pool.” When asked to elaborate on who was watching the team when they were in Florida for the competition, Giordano replied, “Nobody was.”
When Giordano approached administration about her concerns about Roth, she said “They kind of ignored it and blew it off like it was nothing because we kept winning.”
A local private cheer cheer gym owner also alerted SVVSD about inappropriate behavior via multiple emails and statements to administration staff and leaders. During a June 2023 graduation party, Roth was witnessed “drinking with students.” The statement expanded that “former athletes can verify this, but are scared to come forward for fear or reprisal.”
A local professional photographer confirmed with YS that there was discrepancy with Roth and Erie Cheer over team photos he took. After attempting to contact Roth regarding photo corrections and payment, communication ceased.
The photographer confirmed this event with YS and also stated “Over the next several months I sent multiple emails to Coach Roth requesting payment. I even offered a significant discount in hopes to get payment. None of my emails requesting payment were responded to.” They were eventually sent a check, but for thousands of dollars less than the contract stipulated. The photographer stated that this type of interaction has never occurred across his decades long career.
Screenshots sent to YS show that Roth routinely collected funds for cheer related expenses via her personal Venmo, rather than directly to the Athletic Department. One Erie cheer parent wrote in a statement that “In 2019, my husband and I donated enough money to pay all of the expenses for an athlete to go to Nationals, over $1,500. We never received any acknowledgement – no thank you, no receipt for our taxes – I’ve always believed that Nora took that money.”
Jennifer — name has been changed to protect anonymity — parent of a former Erie cheerleader, also alleged that her family never received items that were paid for — including a shirt and backpack — and that the fees collected by Roth were often slightly higher than the amount billed. Erie cheer often held fundraisers, run by Roth, that claimed to cover expenses like camp, competition, and uniform fees. Screenshots show at least some parents were still required to pay the full amount of these costs.
Emails show that Roth was sending messages on behalf of Erie cheer while allegedly intoxicated, including informing at least one athlete that she did not make the team. That athlete was an experienced cheerleader. They believe this is retaliation for questioning the financial irregularities surrounding the team.
Nature of the investigation
An investigation was opened by St. Vrain Valley School District into these allegations but parents were frustrated with the lack of communication and transparency from administration, especially from athletic director Chad Cooper. Cooper referred all communication attempts by YS to SVVSD public relations and did not provide a comment. SVVSD also has not provided a comment to YS as of publishing despite multiple attempts to reach out.
Jennifer told us that she felt Cooper was hostile towards parents coming forward with information about Roth. When allegations of potentially compromising photos of underage athletes were discussed, Jennifer stated Cooper responded with “ ‘Do I need to call the police? Was that what I needed to do?’ The way he did it to me was very aggressive.”
The local gym owner had witnessed concerning behavior from Roth, including financial discrepancies, and wanted to follow up with SVVSD on the nature of the investigation. They shared their concerns, “I was never able to get any answer to basic questions like what is your policy regarding mandatory reporting? When was the last time a financial audit was performed, either internally or externally, on the athletic department?”
YS spoke with Debbie — name has been changed to protect anonymity — who submitted a written complaint about Roth shared that Cooper did reach out to her, but called from an unknown number and left no return contact information. The source said they had to find an email from the school’s website to contact Cooper to verify their statement.
The Erie Police Department also investigated Roth, and determined no criminal charges would be filed. Public Information Officer Luttrell stated “A thorough investigation, to include reports of unauthorized expenses did not support filing criminal charges.”
“Investigators interviewed several witnesses and complainants (which includes those who made allegations) … The Erie Police Department reviewed statements provided by St. Vrain Valley School District. A thorough investigation did not support filing criminal charges,” Luttrell wrote.
Concluding the SVVSD investigation without transparency does not provide parents and students with confidence that the correct decision was made. SVVSD was unable to comment on the investigation when it was active, and has not responded to requests for comment on the conclusion. Cooper did not have a comment for YS. Jennifer, Debbie, and others are still waiting on information from the district to gain clarity as to why no wrongdoing was found.
A successful sports program can mask a lot of internal issues. Erie is fresh off winning championships and competing in Nationals, often dominating the competition on their way. Even that is being questioned, however. Data seems to indicate that Erie high school cheer is competing in a lower division than they should. Per public information Erie high school has an enrollment of 1,713 students. The cutoff for the division that Erie cheer won is 1,299 students.
Ms. Roth’s attorney provided the following statement on her behalf:
“Ms. Roth is pleased the allegations were found to be not credible and unfounded. She is looking forward to the upcoming year and the opportunity to lead student athletes on the EHS Cheer team.”
As of publication, Roth has been restored to her head coaching position for the upcoming season.
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