Needham Girls’ Soccer Season Ends Amid Hazing Probe

By Ken MacLeod, WBZ-TV News

NEEDHAM (CBS) – A cold, dismal drizzle matched the mood Tuesday night at Needham High School’s Memorial Field, as the girls from visiting Brockton pummeled the shorthanded home team.

The Needham Rockets were playing without their big guns — suspended from school amid accusations of hazing.

“The kids must feel bad about what they did to the rest of the team,” said JV tennis coach Bill Fidurko.

“Obviously this is an important game — the first of the playoffs.”

Five Needham girls — four of them seniors — were suspended from school and banished from last night’s game.

Coach Carl Tarabelli has been placed on administrative leave.

His goalie daughter is among those accused of leading two blindfolded freshman players around on dog leashes 10 days ago and then slamming pies into their faces.

It’s the kind of thing that schools and leagues have been trying to discourage for two decades.

“I don’t see any way those kids could think that was appropriate behavior,” says Paul Wetzel, spokesman for the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association. The MIAA holds annual workshops for principals, coaches, and team captains — warning them that hazing often comes disguised as initiation, tradition, or some team-building exercise.

Just because it was alright way back when, doesn’t mean it’s alright now,” says Wetzel. “What somebody thinks is funny, another might see as bullying. Someone might think teasing, while another takes it as a serious personal insult.”

But when the school suspended the players Monday — making them ineligible for the opening round of the state tournament — some of their parents went to Norfolk Superior Court.

They were hoping for an injunction that would allow their daughters to play.

One parent’s email to the judge read “The seniors have expressed deep regret for their actions. It makes no sense to put a hurt on the entire team as a consequence for a team-building event.”

The judge didn’t buy it. The kids didn’t play.

Not a single Needham parent would talk to us about the controversy last night. One told us they had informally agreed not to discuss he matter with the media.

But one Brockton mother told WBZ-TV that the Needham girls should have thought twice before pulling such a dumb prank.

“I think what’s happened to them is what should’ve happened to them,” says Adele Enos. “Any other school in any other town would’ve done the same thing. The punishment is more than fair.”

As the rain fell on Tuesday night, Brockton drubbed Needham 7-1, bouncing them from the playoffs. The Rockets relied on second stringers and their JV coach.

At least one spectator hoped a lesson in accountability was obvious to all.

“For parents, principals, coaches, and kids in every sport,” offered Chris Considine, whose daughter used to play for Needham.

“This should be a teaching moment for all of us. Too many kids feel entitled to everything and accountable for nothing. This episode will turn a negative into positive — without question.”

Meanwhile, the police and school investigations continue.

Sources have told WBZ-TV that a couple of the suspended girls have been recruited by big time soccer colleges, prompting questions about what impact the hazing flap might have on their futures.

Back in 2009, Needham High School had to crackdown on rowdy fan behavior at its hockey games.

More from Ken MacLeod
  • cynic

    I don’t see how this can be considered inappropriate behavior….A word of advice for the “Victims”….Don’t join the Marines>

  • peter998899

    This story leaves out some very important facts:

    Who reported the hazing? (and why – there’s always a motive behind the person who reports these incidents)
    Where did it take place?
    What is the name of the school administrator who was notfied?
    What is the name of the school administrator who suspended the girls from play?
    What is the name of the atheletic director at the high school and what was his or her part in the suspensions?

    The coach and the girls are all well known. And they are presumed guilty. But, the reporter should identify the administrators who, rightly or wrongly, impposed the suspensions. Their names should be out on the Web along with all the others.

    For the participants in this story, the internet will haunt them for life. I hope the person who reported this incident (a true rat) will someday feel the impact of the internet on their lives.

    And, by the way, why are the police spending valuable time investigating this incident? Don’t they have more important things to attend to?

    • pj73

      peter998899: Your comments are a perfect example of the ignorant attitude that leads to this type of inappropriate behavior. Put blame on the victim for coming forward? If you’ve been following this at all, several other stories reported it was the principal that suspended the players. What makes you think that the media is allowed to see all the details of an ongoing school or police investigation anyway? They are not.

      You hope this haunts the victims? How? By people like you harassing them for coming forward? That is called Intimidation of a Witness and is a felony.

      You obviously do not know anything about policing either. The police have a duty to investigate all crimes, no matter how serious you think it is. If something major comes up in the meantime, such as a murder, they obviously would prioritize their resources to that.

    • Anonymous

      The police are spending time investigating this because this is as bad as things usually get in Needham. Normally it’s just traffic violations and occasionally an underage drinking party.

  • Cynic

    How could anyone expect a different ruling from a Female Judge with a Hyphenated last name?

  • Cathy Mertz

    @ Cynic: Really? Really??

  • Cynic II

    I think the game suspensions were reasonable, but all the rest makes me very cynical. Maybe we should have grief counselors called in for the victims, their friends and family? Pies to the face? How HORRIFIC!!!!!!!….and they didn’t even get to pick the flavor! Felonious if you ask me! All of this “Culture of Victims” makes me very nauseous. I’m all for leaving hazing in the past, and their are no excuses here – they own it, but for gawd’s sake, it’s a minor offense that’s been colossally blown up!

  • Suzi

    I think it is amazing that the parents took this to court. Talk about teaching kids not to be repsonsible for their own actions. Well, now they’ve learned, Mommy and Daddy can’t fix everything.

    These aren’t 12 year olds, they are high school seniors … 17 and 18 years old … soon to be “out on their own”, at 18 they can legally enter into a binding contract, marry, have their NAMES published in the paper when picked up on charges, etc, etc … time to learn to be responsible for themselves.

    The judge made the right call.

  • Suzi

    Cynic II … no need to blame the victims. No they weren’t physically hurt and even emotionally … I agree, it wasn’t all that bad.

    But school rules are school rules and it is the principal’s job to enforce them. I’m pleased that the judge has deemed the principal is within her rights to do her job.

    • Anonymous

      The principal of Needham High is a man… just letting you know.

  • Emmit066

    Hazing is an unacceptable practice that has no place in today’s society.

  • Parents React To Needham Soccer Suspensions « CBS Boston – News, Sports, Weather, Traffic and Boston's Best

    […] (CBS) — The Needham High School girls’ soccer team has gotten a lot of attention after five players were suspe… on the team. The hazing incident involved players being put on dog leashes and smacked in the face […]

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