Photo Illustration By Andrew Brown ’18 | The soccer team hopes to change the team culture heading into next season.
By Andrew Howard ’17 & Anthony Cardellini ’17
Following events Principal Mr. Bob Ryan described as “hazing” that took place on the varsity soccer team’s annual retreat in January, the school suspended returning players from all soccer activities for a week in the season.
The events and subsequent punishment also forced the soccer team and the school’s administration to rethink the season, and take a deep look into the culture of its program.
“We found out two things. At the retreat up at Manresa some returning members of the team engaged in a ritual of sorts with new members of the team,” Mr. Ryan said. “Their intention was to ‘welcome’ members to the team, my interpretation is that it was hazing. The second thing we discovered, which is more disheartening to me is that this has been happening for the last few years.”
Mr. Ryan said he could not elaborate on the specific activities, but was clear in stating that behavior that seeks to “humiliate, demean or dehumanize” other students will not be tolerated on campus in any form.
He said that before discovering it was happening beyond this one event and instead as part of the culture of the team, he had every intention of ending this year’s season.
All returning players were suspended from all soccer activities for the week after the incident was discovered, including one game, which the team lost 3-0 to Perry.
More than just being suspended, the returning players spent a day at Brophy that included a repentance element, a service element and a reflection element, something Mr. Ryan said was important for rebuilding the team.
“The consequence was levied to every single returning member of the team, not just the specific guys who were at fault here because every member of the team, to our knowledge, knew this was going to go on,” Mr. Ryan said. “Our determination was that there was an issue with the culture of the team, and all of those who were aware of the culture are to be held responsible.”
Mr. Ryan also said it was important for the players who were not directly involved to know that they still had a voice and the ability to stop this from happening.
Head soccer coach Mr. Paul Allen ’03 had a similar response to Mr. Ryan’s, saying that the actions not only did not reflect the team, but did not reflect what Brophy stands for.
“That’s not within the justice or men for others values or anything that we stand for, so to find out something like that has been happening behind the scenes is very disheartening to me, especially when it’s in a program I’ve been a part of for 15 years of my life,” he said.
Mr. Allen also said that when things like this happen, it is his job to help the students learn from their mistakes.
“My goal as a coach is to get them to understand what they did and why they did it and how it was wrong so that we can move forward from it,” he said. “To fix a culture you have to start now and continue with the new mentality into the future so it doesn’t happen again … We are going to work as a group to get back to our core values and our values as Brophy Soccer.”
All players were reinstated for the final four games of the season. The team lost to Tolleson in the semi-finals of the state playoffs.
With the incident happening in the middle of the season, Mr. Allen said it was important to try and move past it and prevent it from being a problem for the whole year.
“We didn’t want to harp on something and keep it lingering around when it was during the season, but now that the season is over this is the time where we sit down as a staff and administration and say ‘how do we fix this going forward?’” he said.
When asked about his feelings on how the team can move forward, he said he wanted it not only to be a learning experience for his players, but for all others dealing with similar problems.
“You can’t mask things, if there is a problem it needs to be addressed … people can learn from what has been experienced with us and part of doing that is letting it into the open and saying ‘this was a culture, we’ve seen it, we are fixing it, and this is how we will move forward,’” he said.
Mr. Ryan agreed that this can be a learning experience for other teams and the community.
“Everyone likes to say we are different here, and we should be different here,” Mr. Ryan said. “Just because lots of other communities and lots of other teams and part of the culture that [hazing] is how boys welcome each other, we should be different.”