BALTIMORE (WJZ) — All 24 members of Severna Park High School’s varsity field hockey team were suspended for a game after reports of community vandalism, which caused the team to be withdrawn from the state championship tournament.
South River High School now has a spot in the tournament, instead, according to Anne Arundel County Schools.
After a dominating season of 14 wins. and just one loss. The varsity field hockey squad was on it’s way to the state semifinal.
The vandalism allegedly occurred Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. More than two dozen residences were littered with toilet paper, business signs, and an assortment of food and other products.
School officials have conducted interviews with players and coaches over the last two days.
After learning of the incidents and the sanctions imposed by the school, Superintendent George Arlotto made the decision to withdraw Severna Park from the Class 4A state tournament.
“The school received complaints from members of the community whose homes were targeted in this. Here we have innocent members of the community who now have to spend hours cleaning up trash, food and whatever else exists at their residences,” said Bob Mosier of Anne Arundel County Public Schools.
Three of Severna Park’s coaches were also suspended for one game, there is no indication the coaches participated.
“I mean I’ve made mistakes and have reaped the whirlwind occasionally and that’s the way life goes. if you don’t learn those lessons, they just become bigger mistakes later,” said Brian Benner of Severna Park.
The school’s investigation to date has not shown that the team’s coaches were involved in the incidents, but that they were aware of a tradition of a team sleepover after a region championship win that had previously included throwing toilet paper at the homes of coaches.
“I echo Dr. Arlotto’s thoughts with regard to this unfortunate incident,” Severna Park Principal Patrick Bathras said. “Our motto at SPHS is ‘A Tradition of Excellence’ and this behavior does not exemplify those words, beliefs, or values.”
“These girls in the program are phenomenal and I think we had an opportunity to bring the community together and this might have fractured the community a little bit,” said Tom Miller, father of one of the Severa Park players.
“I do feel bad for them. i’m sure they didn’t think anything like that would happen from what they did and it’s always hard when you can’t connect those consequences,” Elizabeth Stuelke said.
Police told WJZ this is not a criminal matter.
Severna Park High has won more than 20 state championships over the years, they were supposed to play the semifinal game on Monday.
Officials at the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association were told of the decisions Friday, and directed Anne Arundel County Public Schools, per state tournament regulations regarding a school found ineligible during the progress of a tournament, to inform South River of its re-entry into the tournament. Severna Park beat South River in the region championship game on Tuesday, but must now forfeit that game.