KITTANNING, Pa. (AP) – A female high school ice hockey goalkeeper in Pennsylvania is returning to the ice for her first school game on Monday after she was the target of obscene chants from spectators that resulted in discipline by a school and a youth sports organization . .
Armstrong High School students chant obscenity at the Mars Area High School team’s female goalkeeper during an October 28 game between the Armstrong River Hawks and the Mars Fightin’ Planets at the Armstrong team’s Belmont Ice Arena near Kitning, in western Pennsylvania. The chants of a group of 50 to 60 students were captured in videos posted on social media.
The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League on Thursday barred Armstrong’s students from River Hawks hockey games and placed the school’s team on probation for the remainder of the 2021-22 season, including the playoffs. Siblings of university players can participate Only if they enter and sit with a parent or guardian, and the school must provide a faculty member or administrator at each home and away varsity sport to serve as a monitor.
League commissioner John Mucha called the students’ actions “disgusting” and “absolutely more than children’s children”.
“The game should have been put on hold until the behavior stopped or fans were taken out of the building,” Mucha said.
Team USA Women’s Hockey Olympian Meghan Duggan offered support to the Mars player in a tweet.
“Every time you take to the ice, the women and girls in the hockey community are proud of you!” he said. “You represent so much more than the hateful words that were directed towards you.”
Mars coach Steve Meyers said their goalkeeper, who has started in all five of the team’s matches this season, was in tears after the second period. She and her family have declined to comment, and the Associated Press is not naming her in an effort to maintain her privacy and protect her from further abuse.
Meyers stated that she is the only goalkeeper on the roster and one of several girls who have played high school hockey in previous years, some as a goalkeeper.
“We don’t have anyone else. She plays varsity and joint venture for us,” Meyers said in her 14th year as coach. “We’ve seen a lot of girls in this league before and never heard of anything like it. . With all the training we need to do as coaches about safe play and sportsmanship, this should not happen. To see it fail miserably, it’s really disappointing.”
Armstrong’s principal, Kirk Lorigan, said school officials were “shocked and embarrassed” and that he was “disgusted” that parents and security guards did nothing to stop the chants. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that he apologized to the player, the team, and the Mars community.
Lorigan said officers were still investigating but that “reasonable school discipline has been exercised.” Post-Gazette reported That he declined to say Thursday night whether the suspension was imposed. The school board also did not specify disciplinary measures. It was not clear whether the discipline was imposed only on the students.
Armstrong County commissioners, however, banned students in grades nine through 12 from participating in hockey games on the Belmont campus, as well as grades seven and eight. In addition, high school administrators have demanded that the Armstrong Hockey Association employ two security guards for all future games.
High school hockey in western Pennsylvania is not a school-sponsored sport, but a club sport run by parents and boosters at each school.
The Mars Hockey Club Board expressed its gratitude for the support in a statement on Saturday, but said the directors would like to “respect and protect the privacy of our goalkeepers.” Officials said his top priority is “to facilitate a safe and healthy environment where he, and all of our student-athletes, can continue to do what they love: play hockey.”
“Clearly, the incident on October 28 was completely unacceptable and the entire hockey community should take steps to ensure that such conduct never happens again,” the Mars Club statement said. “We hope this incident has attracted attention that will shed light on issues our female athletes are facing that should not be tolerated and that this attention will help eliminate this type of conduct from our sport.”
Armstrong, a high school in Kittening, is 3–0 this season and defeated Mars 7–4 in an October 28 game. Mars is 0-5.
On Saturday, the Mars goalkeeper took to the ice once again to the cheers of supporters of his traveling team, the Arctic Fox, in a game in the Pittsburgh Amateur Hockey League. Her next high school game is scheduled for Monday night at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.
This story has been corrected to show that the Mars Area High School team name is Fightin’ Planets, not Fighting Planets.