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Stephenville coach frustrated teams can’t play during hazing investigation

An investigation into possible hazing activities by athletes at Stephenville High School is being carried out the Bay St. George RCMP.
An investigation into possible hazing activities by athletes at Stephenville High School is being carried out the Bay St. George RCMP. - Frank Gale

Susan Fowlow is finding it difficult to explain to her daughter Davis why she and many other athletes at Stephenville High School are being punished because of the actions of others.

According to the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District, the administration of Stephenville High School recently became aware of allegations of hazing activity by students. It's not in line with the expectations of the Safe and Caring School policy and school Behavior Expectation Matrix, said the statement.

In order to properly address this issue with students, the school suspended all athletic programs to focus on education regarding expectations for student behaviour, along with academic studies.

Fowlow, a coach of seniors girls volleyball and senior girls basketball, said for students who are not involved in such practices, it’s frustrating for them to be told they are not going to play because of others involved in the practices.

“Why are we being punished?” she asks. And that is the question she is getting from many of her players. She said her daughter just wishes she could be playing her sports now, including volleyball, indoor soccer and basketball.

Fowlow said this could have far-reaching effects for some student athletes, some of whom hope to cash in on sports scholarships heading into post-secondary.

“I’m disappointed for my daughter’s sake and a number of other athletes who didn’t do these things,” she said.

Fowlow said the suspension of play was initially going to be a week or two. Now another week has been added and some are even saying possibly January before athletes are allowed tp resume competition.

The matter is in the hands of the RCMP. Corp. John Butler would not say how long the investigation will take, but confirmed police have a file opened and are actively investigating to see if there are any Criminal Code violations by participants in the school’s sports programs.

He said it’s possible some activities of members of the school’s sports teams could be criminal in nature, but would not get into specifics.

“We’re looking into everything that’s being shared with us by the school,” Butler said.

This suspension came into effect Oct. 18 when the information was passed over to the RCMP.

Before the school reinstates its athletic activities, it plans on providing a mandatory education component along with new protocols and procedures to be implemented.

Butler said the RCMP will be involved and officers will go into the school to speak to students about what constitutes criminal activity.

Meanwhile, Fowlow said she doesn’t want to see any student being bullied or hazed, but would like to see some kind of a timeline given on when sports programs can resume.

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