WINOOSKI – Hundreds of people showed up under the lights at Winooski High School on Tuesday night to show their support for the school’s boys’ soccer team, which the city’s school district director said was victimized. racist abuse during a game earlier this month against Enosburg Falls High School.
“This is what the community looks like,” Winooski high school principal Jean Berthiaume told the crowd. “We go out for each other. We support each other. We defend each other. “
Superintendent Sean McMannon said in a statement on the district’s Twitter on Friday that Winooski High players of color “were called the N-word, the monkey and the terrorist” during the September 18 game, which took place in Winooski.
McMannon also called on the Vermont Principals’ Association, the governing body of school sports in Vermont, to take stronger action to combat racism in the state.
Jay Nichols, executive director of the association, said Monday that the association is aware of the allegations and is investigating a Winooski player who butted an Enosburg Falls player.
Officials on September 24 “immediately begin to develop a system for reporting any racist incident at any sporting event at Vermont High School,” the association said in a statement. declaration Tuesday.
In Tuesday night’s Winooski game against Oxbow High, many in the crowd of all ages wore black shirts with “Winooski Strong” written on the front. Some brought hand-made signs with messages such as “We Believe Black Lives Matter” and “We [heart] Winooski football.
Kiara Mack, a senior at Winooski High and goalkeeper for the women’s soccer team, held a sign that read “Give racism the red card.”
She and other students came to the game, she said, to support the boys’ team and speak out against the racism faced by boys’ and girls’ football teams.
“For girls, we often see racism and sexism,” said Mack, who is a person of color. “And it’s really, really hard.”
Mack said it was “disgusting to watch” the boys’ game against Enosburg Falls earlier this month. The two teams “pushed” against each other, she said, but the refs seemed harder on Winooski’s players and made calls she felt were unfair.
“I’m always here to fight for them,” Mack said of the Winooski team. “And I think I can see when our boys are doing too much and when we’re really being targeted.”
In this case, she felt it was the latter.
Mack also described hearing racist comments during the game. She heard a child in the crowd say “I’ll wait for you after the game, [N-word], “she said. When a Winooski player took a hard hit, she said someone told another Winooski player that” your people can take it. “
She also heard the words “monkey” and “terrorist” coming from the crowd, and said the match officials had not done enough to prevent the abuse from occurring.
“It was like, okay, maybe you’re not the racist,” Mack said, speaking of one of the refs. “But you allow someone to be racist.”
Underhill’s David and Misuk Weaver stood a few feet from the crowd ahead of Tuesday night’s game.
Racism in the state “sometimes exists behind the scenes,” out of public view, said David Weaver.
“When it’s obvious, it worries me even more,” he said of the game against Enosburg Falls.
Mellisa Cain, who helped organize in the community to get people out for Tuesday’s game, said the evening was meant to “show her support for the children.”
“I hope the community will continue to come to the games to say, ‘We love you and we are here,'” she said.
If you would like to keep tabs on education news from Vermont, sign up here to receive a weekly email with all of VTDigger’s reports on higher education, early childhood programs and politics. education K-12.