Parents React To Needham Soccer Suspensions

By Paul Burton, WBZ-TV

NEEDHAM (CBS) — The Needham High School girls’ soccer team has gotten a lot of attention after five players were suspended for hazing younger players on the team. The hazing incident involved players being put on dog leashes and smacked in the face with pies. 

One Needham parent who did not want to be identified said, “I was livid over the hazing. It was mean-spirited and crossed the line of fun and games and that’s why people were upset.”

However, the parent believes the girls should’ve been given a second chance based on the school’s handbook.

“She had not been harmed or put at risk, but they made her do things that were kind of demeaning,” the parent said.

Sharon Lund, the parent of another player, has a different take.

In an email to WBZ she said the hazing incident was taken out of context.

“In a nutshell, there was no intention to harm, nor was any harm perceived by team members, during a misguided attempt at team building. I can safely say that the entire Needham girls’ soccer team and parents are unanimous in supporting each senior who has been placed on suspension and the coach who has been placed on administrative leave,” Lund said.

It is clear that not all parents were on board with the idea of going to court to allow their kids to play.

One player’s parent said taking this incident to court just makes it a bigger ordeal than it really is and paints a dark cloud over the school.

“We don’t need lawyers. It makes it too difficult for the school to do its job.”

The suspensions cost Needham a shot at the state title when they lost to Brockton on Tuesday.

More from Paul Burton
  • lillian

    maybe these parents would think differently if it was their kid getting hazed, not doing the hazing. these kids should be suspended from the team and from school, and should not be excused from such a thing.

    • Dave

      These are your typical sports parents. They all think their kids are the next superstars and this explains why athletes in general are a social bust. It starts with poor parenting. Tell the arrogant lawyer dad to do a little pro-bono work for the kid in Hamilton who was suspended for riding a horse to school.

  • sportschick

    Parents and kids keep pushing for anti-bullying/hazing programs, yet get so upset if it was their own child. If their children were the girls getting hazed, I’m sure the parents would not say “It’s no big deal.” How long is it going to take until people realize that if their kids do something wrong, they need the correct punishment.

  • Bewildered mom

    Let’s see. Senior female athletes with some inflated view of themselves forcing freshmen athletes to participate in demeaning exercises with the potential for injury. (yes a pie in the face could damage an eye). Let me check my dictionary. It sounds like bullying to me.

  • John J

    Thank God my kids go to school in New Hampshire. Massachusetts parent’s attitudes and justifications for their children’s behavior amaze me. A “team building” exercise-what a disgrace.

  • Dave

    These parents need a little time in community service and parenting class. Clearly they never heard of accountability.

    I wonder, where are the stories about all the suspensions schools hand out and for what cause. my bet is that if any real investigative news team researched this subject they would stop all this BS about Needham soccer girls and talk about how many kids are denied a real education for doing far less than these inexcusable acts.

  • Soccermom

    To all the parents who have had so much to say, congratulations to your parents for raising children who NEVER made a mistake! That being said, being a parent of a soccer player myself, and not from Needham, I applaud you for being dedicated enough to raise girls who obviously kept their grades high enough to be on the team, not to mention the college scholarships that have been reported to have been granted. I just wish we could hear from the previous posters parents about high school pranks they had been involved in that are laughed about at high school reunions, which may or may not had resulted in punishments other people could have deemed appropriate at that time. To the parents and students…this too shall pass and be a memory. To the girls learn from your mistake and move on to be great successful women.

    • Dave

      Great another soccermom who can make excuses for bad behavior. I suggest before you draw any more foolish conclusions here that you research a bit closer the finer details of this assault. This is not about whether kids make mistakes, as all kids will do, but how ADULTS handle those mistakes and the penalties that come from them. This generation of soccermoms choose to let it slide instead of holding their children accountable because sports or personal free time away from kids is far more important than social discipline. In my day we had detentions, benching from games, and parents that grounded us. Now detention is gone because union teachers don’t want to dedicate the time, we stopped benching players because soccermoms and coaches only wanted to see victory and not sportsmanship, and grounding went away with “too busy to deal with” family environment. This is about responsibility and holding kids ready for college accountable. There is more to this story than you understand soccermom so with all your free time, research it better.

  • Dwayne

    When I played sports, we always looked to the upperclassmen-women as role models with their age and experience. This would not be the kind of behavior or leadership I would expect or tolerate from them or anyone.

  • Cynic

    Every year the Red Sox rookies are forced to dress up like girls.I think we should suspend Don Zimmer…Oh? he’s not?…OK,I think we should suspend Francona.

  • Phil

    This is a no – brainer and should have very little needless arguing back. Hazing is a State Law Violation. As Teachers and Educators, we gave all our students, whether they were an athlete or not a form to be signed re: this statute, every year the first week of school. The Principal of NHS did exactly as he should have. Imagine if he did not react or compromised or allowed the parents to dictate the situation to him? The coach, he knew about all this!! He is the leader of young people and should set an impeccable example. Right!

  • Steve

    The coach should be banned for life and never allowed to coach again, he has shown that he does not has “THE RIGHT STUFF TO TEACH CHILDREN” in fact I seriious think he should be banned from teaching period. This whole thing happened because he allowed it to happen, he could have stopped it and he didn’t………

  • Bewildered mom

    I can’t believe that this is being compared to th Red Sox organization. First off, the Sox is a private organization. The NHS is a COMMUNITY organization charged with the responsibility of educating our children AND along with the parents, aiding in the growth and development of our children.

    Dressing like a girl isn’t the same as pulling someone around on a leash.

    As a former collegiate athlete myself, and never exposed to hazing of any kind, let’s not miss the point here. Kids will make mistakes (we all did as kids too) but I am sure they could have come up with a better exercise for “team building”. AND bad behavior must be punished. That’s the basis for the justice system.

    What bothers me is the excuses being made for these girls because they were prevented from playing in a game with playoff opportunities. That’s too bad. That just happened to be the next game on the schedule, but perhaps they”ll think before acting next time.

  • Appalled by your comments.

    First of all , in response to Dave. I am a Needham High School alum and I suggest you check your facts, there IS still detention at Needham High as well as in countless other schools in the area that were and still are attended by my friends. In response to Phil and Steve I suggest you two also check your facts because the coach DID NOT support these actions and in fact did not know about them until shortly after the incident. He is being punished for not immediately going to the school administration for whatever reason. We are all very busy people Im sure he had some other things to handle besides running to the administration like a child running to mommy.
    In response to “Bewildered mom” clearly you were not on any type of legitimate or important college sports team seeing as ALL of my friends currently on college sports teams – Princeton, UPenn, Tufts, UDel, College of Charleston, and more – have all experienced some sort of hazing. Also, “inflated view of themselves,” let me just point out that you don’t know any of these girls personally, I do. None of them have an “inflated view” of themselves. It makes you seem incredibly unintelligent and judgmental that your sitting behind your computer screen making judgements about girls whom you have never met and know absolutely nothing about, ESPECIALLY considering your a grown woman, pick on someone your own size, start dealing in the adult arena in your workplace, or elsewhere if you even have a job considering how many stay at home moms sit home learning how to bake the perfect pie and depend on their husbands income. Lastly, let me point out that no parents of the players knew about this practice before this year or this incident. You too have no way of knowing what your children may be getting up too so I wouldn’t be so quick to criticize these girls, you may find yourself in a similar situation one day and I would expect you to do something similar to these parents, who wouldn’t go to bat for their children. So “Bewildered mom” consider your words before you say them. Thanks.
    In response to John, you live in New Hampshire, tell me again what your state has contributed to the country as a whole, sub par ski and tubing mountains, oh. Enough said.
    Lastly, lets all take a step back and think about what really is going on here. Pies to the face? Grow a pair. Hitting people in the face with pies is still a game at some state fairs. People are being tortured and mistreated in the Middle East as well as countless other places all over the world, Genocide in Darfur, Female genital cutting in Africa and all you rich ADULTS are sitting in your warm offices and homes wasting your time whining about a relatively harmless hazing incident in a town you probably are not even near. PLEASE GROW UP AND START THINKING ABOUT BIGGER ISSUES. In all honesty I think your all wimps and believe me i would like to use a much more offensive word here. This issue ties in with everyones qualms over political correctness, what terms we can and cannot use, who can make fun of what on television. There is going to be a day and age soon where NO ONE can do or say anything to anyone else and that will be a sad day in America. Personally I think you all need to wipe your sniveling noses, dry your eyes and move on. Thank you.

  • Dave

    Hey Appalled…If we are fact checking, I suggest you dig a bit deeper into your facts. First, talk to the school about the number of suspensions handed out this year and on average and for what cause. See how this incident compares. Second, The coach knew and tried to cover it up. The inident reportedly happened off school grounds, involved being dragged around on hands and knees in the mud, involved bruising by all those involved, and involved the destruction of clothes. The coach and others tried to raise teh funds to replace teh damaged goods. This is the details that do not appear to be getting reported. Third, If it was about suspensions, why has teh time lost to education never been discussed? Why are you and others ultimately discussing this as a matter of a soccer game and not about the education? If it is about the education, I suggest you review the details of my first item before speaking. I guarantee there would be better causes than this to discuss.

    As I see it appalled, you are the new age kid based on your statements and that is the scary part. Your parents failed you and I am sure with this attitude you will fail yours. You make this about an athletic ritual that only athlets can understand when in fact this is about social responsibility, accountability, and a trending derioration of both in society today. Wait until you have your own kids and then tell me how well receptive you would be to this. My bet if your little Sally came home upset about it you would be the first to cry foul. Hypocrites usually are.

  • Apalled

    Getting nasty and name calling aren’t we Dave?
    I’m wondering why you mention suspensions when I said nothing about them in my previous post. Enlighten me since you seem so inclined. Secondly. I’d like to see where your getting said, “unreported info,” does not seem too reliable to me. Since you seemed to have misunderstood, understandably, you’re appalling spelling and grammar does not give me the impression your’e very smart, I’m not commenting on lost education time and suspensions in fact I never mentioned them. I do not feel like this aspect of the issue at hand is wildly important. You can miss a week of school and make up the work and lost class time fairly easily.
    I would also ask you not to criticize my parents who have in no way failed me, something else you have no way of knowing, in fact my parents disagree with me on this issue. My response was geared towards all of you who are griping on this issue when in the big scheme of the world it is minimal. I would also like you to point out where in my comment I expressed how I felt the girls should be punished or what I thought about their punishments. All I suggest is that you consider larger issues. I also take offense to your insulting tone.
    Lastly, you need to consider who you are insulting when you say hazing is sign of a deterioration of society. What are you saying about other generations who participated in and experienced hazing. Those who fought in World War II and Vietnam? People who gave their lives? Do you consider these people members of a degenerate society? I would hope not.
    And, trivial but none the less annoying, your appalling grammar:
    Your multiple misspellings of “the”
    Your misspelling of “athletes” you spelled it “athlets”
    and your sentence “This is the details that do not appear to be getting reported”
    I think it might be better if you replaced “this” with “These.”

  • macbuck

    I think we all need to take a deep breath here and remember the context. School systems and the Comonwealth took action to prevent hazing after several horrific incidents in which young people were injured or killed. Did what the Needham Seniors do even approach that – of course not. Soccer players play in the mud. the risk of injury from a pie int he face is much less than playing soccer. HOWEVER, school administrators and coaches CANNOT be put in the position of determining what is and what is not hazing. Nor can there be levels of “acceptable” hazing – Such subjective determinations would make it impossible to govern the behavior. There fore all hazing is forbidden – such zero tolerance policies are necessary, and fair. The Needham Seniors, reportedly, signed a contract in which it was made clear that hazing was forbidden and punishment would be severe. They must suffer the consequences of their actions and indeed have. As a parent, I can understand why the parents of the suspended students tried to obtain an injunction. It does not mean they abrogate their responsibilities as parents, nor does it mean they are bad parents, it just means they were acting in what they felt was the best interest of their children. Playing in a state tournament is not just another game – it is the culmination of countless hours of hard work and dedication,. I can see why parents would not want their girls to miss this the culmination of their HS career. I am, however glad that the judge ruled against the parents. As I said the girls need to be held responsible for their actions. Indeed the parents seeking injunctive relief may well be satisfied knowing that they took appropriate steps to help their daughters finish their careers on the field, but in in losing, the girls are being, appropriately, held accountable for their actions.

  • Bewildered mom

    Thanks folks. I’ll leave the rest of you to continue on this matter. I am not interested in trying to justify why I feel these actions by these young women were wrong.

    Sorry Appalled, I thought this was an arena to share comments on what one felt strongly about. I guess not.

    FYI – I was on a Divisioin II now Division I collegiate team. I am the mother of two and have a Masters Degree in Finance from one of the top schools in New England. You too don’t know anything about me either..

    I concede that I don’t know any of these girls personally but have been around athletes all of my life and know that “some” of them, especially the very skilled ones tend to hold themselves higher or superior than others. There’s a certain feeling of entitlement – at least that is what I have observed and experienced.

    Also you obviousy did not read both of my posts. I recognized that the kids made a mistake. I never spoke ill of the parents personally, just tried to convey that when children do something seriously wrong (like this incident) they should be punished.

    Take a deep breath sister and step back. Try to be objective. I am well aware that I will not always know what my children are up to. But I also know that if my daughter was one of the hazers, I (not the school) would have banned her from playing on the team for the rest of the season. I would need no intervention from any other authority.

    I try to listen to my children but when they mess up I let them know that they did and that there will be consequences.

    Pies in faces does have a place at Carnivals, I’ve seen it myself. This is not the place for it nor are dog collars. Just my humble opinion.

    On a side note Appalled. Your words give a very good indication of your age range. Be nice young lady. There’s no need for hostility and be careful how you categorize housewives. It isn’t what you see on TV and there are so many facets and dynamics at play in a one income marriage/partnership one can’t even start to cover them all.

    I was a high ranking working professional who “chose” to stay at home during these years to provide my children with the care and attention that we felt they would benefit from. You, don’t be so judgmental. I am not saying it is for everyone and some people can not afford to have one parent staying at home. However, I can FULLY appreciate the working mother and father trying to make ends meet and still give their children what they need.

    Good luck all.


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