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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.

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