Soccer initiation scrutinized
Incline High School officials are investigating a girls’ soccer team initiation Sept. 18 that may have gone awry when at least one member of the team was asked to remove her top.
Principal Mike Whellams said he learned of the alleged wrongdoing Friday after school hours when a parent called to ask if he had been informed of the incident.
At that point, Whellams arranged to meet with the coach/athletic director Jennifer Thomas on Monday afternoon.
Apparently veteran team members were each responsible for bringing one or two newcomers to the team, ranging from freshmen to juniors, to the high school football field for an evening of zaniness.
“They were instructed to dress up like dorks. Some were dressed like hookers,” Whellams said. “At some point and time, they were being goofy and someone, or a couple of kids that were providing leadership lined the girls up and asked them to take off their blouses.”
Initiations are not sanctioned by the school and, as in this instance, school officials and coaches were not notified of the event, which occurred at about 10 p.m.
The school investigation revealed there was a crowd of people numbering between 15 and 25 there as spectators, only about five of whom were invited.
“Some soccer players contacted a few random people to watch them act ‘dorky’,” Thomas said.
The group blossomed when those who were invited brought others with them so the group represented a true cross section of the school with both boys and girls present, Thomas said.
It is unknown who said anything about taking the tops off, according to Whellams.
“Their blouses came off, their bras were still on,” Whellams said, adding that the bras were of the sport jogging bra type. “They were off for about a minute and then put back on.”
The incident involved only four or five of the girls, he said.
When the request or suggestion to remove their blouses was made, some of the girls didn’t want to remain and left.
Team member Tara Stanbury, who was present at the initiation, attested to this.
“Certain girls who had picked the girls up to bring them – the older girls that were with us – didn’t like what was going on and left,” Stanbury said.
“Many of the kids were horrified at where it was headed and didn’t know what to do,” Whellams said.
The team itself had mixed reactions to the incident.
“Some felt bad about what happened, others said it was fun,” Thomas said.
Girls interviewed by the Bonanza newspaper agreed.
“I don’t think there was anything too wrong with it. None of the girls seemed offended,” said Nicole Demers, who was not present at the event but heard about the events.
Stanbury had similar sentiments.
“Basically they came to the house, dressed us up and took us to the football field and marched us around,” Stanbury said. “I’m only aware of one girl that was asked (to take her top off) and she said she didn’t want to. I had a lot of fun personally and didn’t think there was anything wrong with what was going on.”
Ashley Marriner, who wasn’t at the initiation felt differently. “What they did this year, I thought it was a little extreme,” she said, adding that she had talked to friends about it.
One parent, who requested anonymity said he wouldn’t let his daughter attend.
“I had a phone call and they said it was some secret thing, an initiation and needed directions to the house,” the man said. “They said she would be out all night and would be staying at a kid’s home whom I didn’t know.”
Whellams said he and Thomas met with the team Monday afternoon and discussed the incident.
“They were in tears. Something that started innocent got out of hand,” he said.
Both Whellams and Thomas said they were pleased with the way the team is handling itself.
“I’m extremely proud of how they handled this,” Whellams said.
The consequences of the girls’ actions has not been determined.
“We don’t have a victim here,” Whellams said. “The girls that were here initially all had a great time. They had fun. Their parents said the same thing.”
Punishments could affect the students’ athletes and academics, Thomas said.
“It could affect the season or a game and there is a school side -suspension, detention, community service,” she said. “The young women feel they would like to take the punishment as a team.”
Since initiations are not school-sanctioned events, Whellams and Thomas said they have little control over the actions of future teams.
“I would imagine the coaches will tell the players, ‘We can’t stop you from doing those sort of things, but that when those things happen you need to make sure you make good decisions and not bring discredit to your coach or school,'” Whellams said.
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