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Mr. Ryan: Lacrosse team hits reset on season

LAX teams shut down for 1 week after reported incident

By Julian De Ocampo ’13 & Jackson Santy ’13

Following a string of incidents that resulted in the suspension of the lacrosse team in February, Principal Mr. Bob Ryan said that the lacrosse team is having a “do-over” this season.

“There was an incident that occurred during tryouts,” Mr. Ryan said. “And then there was an incident where a girl who was a visitor to campus described a situation where she was harassed by some lacrosse players, and so I met with the team and described my frustration with all of those things.”

Mr. Ryan said that these issues, and what he described as “the culture of the team,” go back as far as the end of last lacrosse season.

“At the end of last season, there were a few incidents that occurred with members of the lacrosse team,” Mr. Ryan said. “I talked with the offices and with the coaches and the parents who oversee the lacrosse program just about those, about how to start the season off on a good foot this year.”

Mr. Ryan did not elaborate on the incidents.

The idea of a necessary suspension was echoed by head lacrosse coach Mr. Zach Widbin.

“The appropriate course of action was to shut everything down so that an investigation could ensue and be appropriately conducted and be fair to her and everybody involved,” Mr. Widbin said.

“It was determined that everything would be on hold until the investigation into the matter could shed more light on who was involved and to what extent,” Mr. Widbin said.

All four of the lacrosse teams were not allowed to practice or compete.

According to Mr. Widbin, the team was on a “day to day” over the duration of the suspension.

“We were looking for anybody with information, whether they be on the team or not, to come forward with information,” Mr. Widbin said.

After putting much practice time in during the fall to prepare for the season, players and coaching staff were disappointed with the situation.

“As they began to understand more about the situation and how it affected more than just them, everybody who was involved realized that they weren’t the victims, they were just part of it,” Mr. Widbin said.

But what began as frustration ended up being a sense of “understanding and patience,” according to Mr. Widbin.

“The coaches were disappointed because we were working under the assumption that we would go right into practice after tryouts, but then to have to shut everything down after tryouts was disappointing in the sense that we weren’t prepared for it,” he said. “But again we were understanding that something bigger than lacrosse was happening.”

“The investigation came to a point where they decided that to continue with the suspension of the lacrosse team wouldn’t be appropriate given the evidence that they had,” Mr. Widbin said.

After the one-week suspension, the season started and the team had a retreat at Manresa Feb. 22 that Mr. Ryan said was about “what it means to be a team here at Brophy and how to continue to grow in ways consistent with the school.”

Mr. Ryan said that he has heard that the retreat was successful.

“I have faith in our program. I like lacrosse, I enjoy going to games, I’m a big fan of our teams. I want them to do well,” he said. “I just felt like last season didn’t end well, frankly, in terms of things that I detected in the culture … I wanted to send the message that, hey, there are certain expectations that we have of teams here. We did, and I’m confident that it’s going to be a great year.”

Mr. Ryan said that the team suspension for the faults of a few was a “last resort,” and he maintained that he “empathizes with the vast majority of kids in the program” who did nothing wrong.

Nonetheless, he said that on a certain level, there were more people accountable than those who started the incident.

“On some level, we are all accountable to each other,” Mr. Ryan said. “So if you guys are out somewhere and you see other kids acting like idiots, you guys have a responsibility to hold them accountable.”

He added that these guidelines apply to all students and teams who are held to a different standard at Brophy.

Players such as team captain Ryan Geller ’13 said that he sees a disconnect between how others view lacrosse and the reality of the team.

“I’d have to say that with our lacrosse culture as a whole, there’s two different ways to look at it. There’s the way that those who actually play lacrosse look at it and then there’s the way that society looks at it,” Geller said.

“Society has a negative view of lacrosse because they do not understand us,” Geller said. “They view us as lazy kids who don’t care about anything besides partying.”

Geller said that that it needs to be made clear that this is an incorrect stereotype.

“We, as a community, are student athletes; to us, school comes first, followed by lacrosse,” he said. “If people take the time to get to know us and understand our community, they will see that we are all hardworking individuals who give everything we’ve got to get to the next level.”

Despite the disciplinary issues, Mr. Ryan said he is optimistic about the team.

“I know this upset a lot of people and there’s all this buzz out there about how lacrosse is the black sheep of campus,” he said. “That’s not true for me. The image I have, and the most appropriate one, is that of a start-over.”

Mr. Ryan attributed the cause of the issue to lacrosse’s status as a club sport, saying that because lacrosse is a year-round sport, students are often playing in club leagues that Brophy has no supervision over.

“Our culture here at Brophy, in every department and dimension, needs to be different from other schools and clubs … it has to be that way or we’re not doing our job as a Jesuit school,” he said.

He said that he wonders if the team’s club sport status made it so the team didn’t “feel fully embraced” and said that the school would take steps to support the program more next year.

“A week on hold is a small price to pay to make sure that the answers get out there and that there’s a resolution,” Mr. Ryan said.

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