Racial Slur Used by LR Soccer Player


On Tuesday October 5th, in a JV home soccer game against Harwood Union High School, a Lake Region player said a racial slur towards a player of color on the Harwood team. After investigating the incident and seeking information from the Harwood team, Lake Region has not been able to determine for certain which player said it.

During the game, both teams had substitute coaches. The incident was reported to the ref during the game, and then later reported to Lake Region. According to Lake Region Principal Andre Messier, no one else heard what was said except for the player at whom it was directed.

The next day, Lake Region JV Coach Blake Fletcher gathered the team and told them what had been reported. He sent a letter to parents to explain what happened. The whole team reconvened and had a debrief a couple days later. Then the following Friday, they forfeited their next game and the whole team participated in an ‘implicit bias’ training through the National Federation of High School Athletics. The whole team together decided to write an apology letter to the Harwood player.

The whole team reconvened and had a debrief a couple days later. Each person wrote a personal apology that was part of a collective apology letter.

Some parents pushed back against the actions that the school took. Principal Messier received no comments about the implicit bias training, but instead explained that parent frustration was due to missing a soccer game.

Varsity player Paige Currier reflected upon the situation, saying, “I think what happened during that game was completely unacceptable, especially at a school event. Our teams have been known for having good sportsmanship and being kind to others, and I think with what happened, it kind of undermines that reputation for the soccer teams. Anything you do or say, is how people will remember you. When you are on the field, you are playing for your school and representing it. Racist comments have no business being on our soccer fields and it’s upsetting that it happened.”

Other incidents involving abusive behavior–including racialized incidents–have occurred in previous years in Lake Region sports. This includes towards Lake Region players and also from Lake Region players directed at players on other teams. Incidents like this have also been reported across the state of Vermont. One prominent example of this currently in the news is the racism that the Winooski boys soccer team experienced from the Enosburg team in their game on September 18th. After it was reported, many community members came to the next home game with signs and shirts showing their solidarity and support for Vermont high school athletes of color.

Principal Messier thinks that Lake Region and Harwood have worked together well considering the situation, and he also said that Harwood is appreciative of the steps that Lake Region has taken. “We worked with the other school, we’ve been in communication with the other school, we’ve been in communication and you know, they were appreciative of the steps we were taking,” Messier said. Messier also said that some of the Lake Region JV girls had reported that some of the other players said unkind things towards them, adding, “you know some of our kids reported that there were some not nice things said from their players to us.” Overall, he says he believes that “we were working together well on it for an unfortunate situation.”

The Lake Region Post reached out to both Harwood co-principals, Laurie Greenberg and Megan McDonough, and also their Athletic Director, Chris Langevin. They all declined to comment, with Principal Greenberg saying that “The district and its employees have no comment. Any such matters fall under student discipline and remain confidential. No interviews can happen with any coach or student either.”

The Lake Region administration responded quickly to this incident, and from their perspective, the situation has been resolved. Moving forward, the question is: how does this impact Lake Region sports, and the Lake Region community as a whole?