PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A local youth league is out of more than $8,000 after ordering new uniforms.
The football team and cheer squads placed the order in July. Now, they say the company they’ve ordered from has stopped responding so they reached out to 10 On Your Side for help.
The Portsmouth Bruins is an intercity league made up of 150 kids. That’s five football teams and four cheer squads. The league, full of children ages 5-12, was in need of new uniforms.
Its president reached out to a North Carolina company that he said appeared to be legitimate until the company stopped answering and deleted their website.
With it, $8,108.91 gone.
“8,000 dollars to us is like a million dollars,” said Mike Thomas, president of the Portsmouth Bruins.
Thomas says he reached out to a uniform company in Smithfield, N.C. called “Run With It. Sports.” Thomas says the company’s owner, Lloyd Sutton, even drove up to Portsmouth to meet with Thomas and take players’ measurements.
The uniforms were ordered in July and were promised to be delivered in no more than three weeks. Fast forward to September and those uniforms have yet to arrive.
“Different story after different story. We haven’t heard anything,” Thomas explained after several excuses and now zero response.
Thomas and his team started digging and found Sutton has served jail time for theft and fraud and was wanted as a fugitive in Atlanta, Georgia, and Camden County, N.C. Sutton’s even published a book about his time behind bars.
“Oh my god. Why didn’t we do this initially? It was pretty shocking,” Thomas stated.
Sutton’s also accused of scamming other teams out of uniforms according to Better Business Bureau reports.
“It’s devastating to the kids. They look forward to looking good and we try to portray the right image for them because we’re role models to our kids and we want them to look good,” Thomas said.
Thomas told 10 On Your Side right now all of his players are wearing the same uniform for practice as they do for games and not all of them match.
“Because of the pandemic, helmets and shoulder pads have been really hard to come across,” Thomas stated.
But to Thomas, it’s about more than just matching. It gives his athletes a sense of belonging and pride. Being a part of the team and having that experience keeps them off the streets and out of trouble.
“We want to give the kids something positive to do,” Thomas explained.
10 On Your Side tried contacting Sutton. He didn’t answer the phone. Thomas has a feeling they won’t ever see those uniforms or get their money back.
“Anybody that can help us, we’d really appreciate it,” Thomas said.
If you’d like to help the Bruins, you can call Mike Thomas at 757-320-6757 or email him at Bruinspresident1@gmail.com.
On Saturday, Run With It. Sports posted a statement on social media.
We apologize for the delay in production & shipping of your football uniforms for this season, and we acknowledge your concerns.
The demand for being in the apparel industry has been dramatic this year, as you’ve made that known in your statement (via Helments & Shoulder Pads).
New updates & new systems have now been implemented as a result of this matter, in order to better handle these issues in the future.
What was a small company of just a few has now grown into a full company. We have an amazing team that handles the business &logistics and we will get better as we move forward solving these type of issues.
Again, our apologies & we will get this issue resolved in a timely manner.
*We have released emails between us & our overseas manufacturer regarding this matter to provide the public an accurate depiction of this ordeal.
Lloyd W. Sutton, Run With It. Sports
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