Well, it appears the rumors are true regarding the Woodside coaching change. Both the San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News reported this weekend that former coach Doug Fountain, along with a junior varsity coach, were both fired for a hazing incident against two players while the team was participating in the Orestimba tournament in the Central Valley during the winter break.
Both coaches were allegedly involved in the incident and, at the very least, did nothing to stop it.
I heard the rumors shortly after it became apparent something was going on at Woodside. A couple of assistant coaches from two different programs in the Peninsula Athletic League told me what the rumors were and a third head coach from a different program told me he saw video of the alleged assault.
The story allegedly goes something like this: two players were grabbed by their teammates, taped to chairs, had their mouths duct-taped and at least one had lipstick applied to his face and one was forced to watch Spanish-language programming on television.
Now, at least one of the victim’s families is suing the Sequoia Union High School District. A call to attorney Christopher B. Nolan of the Nolan Law Firm in San Francisco, who has filed the lawsuit, was not returned Monday and SUHSD superintendent James Lianides was out of the office because of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
According to the Mercury News, Lianides said the team has since gone through sensitivity training. I certainly hope there was more discipline than that. Those involved in the attack should have, at the very least, been kicked off the team and prevented from playing for school-sponsored teams for at least the rest of the season. At this point, we may never know what happened unless someone involved comes forward to tell the story or it plays out in court. Now that a lawsuit has been filed, everyone involved will more than likely clam up and the guess here is there will be a settlement with a non-disclosure order included.
I’ve supported Fountain in the past but, if these allegations are true, there is no defense for it. As a high school coach, he is there to not only teach the kids about the game and life, but to protect them — not allegedly participate in such an ugly incident.
But to put all this on the coach is misguided. High school kids nowadays are pretty savvy and they had to know what they were doing was wrong — but not so smart to record the incident and then send it around to others.
More than that, by being on the team, they agreed not to participate in any hazing incidents. Before being allowed to play sports for the school, all student-athletes at Woodside have to sign an athletic packet that spells out what is expected of the players. One of the sections includes an anti-hazing clause. In theory, everyone on the team had signed this. Obviously, some don’t remember doing so, or simply chose not to abide by it.
It’s actually appalling that in this day and age, any player would think of doing something like this. What really galls me in that athletes do this to their own teammates as a way of … bonding? Seems to me that an incident like this would only drive a wedge between the victims and the perpetrators.
And the old standard, “boys will be boys,” doesn’t work here either. That’s an antiquated thought process and even if “boys will be boys,” there is no part of that adage that precludes them from any punishment. There are repercussions and consequences.
I know the school district is being sued because more money can be squeezed out of it and it is ultimately responsible for the safety of its students. But if nothing popped up on Fountain’s background check, how can the school or district know what actions one might take in the future? As much as I hate to say it, the coaches and the parents of those players who took part in the assault should be the ones on the hook for any monetary damages.
Friday was a big night for Naomi and Ilana Baer, members of the Menlo-Atherton girls’ basketball team. Ilana, a freshman, was making her varsity debut and playing alongside older sister Naomi. Ilana went on to be the team’s leading scorer in a loss to Carlmont that night. Naomi was second.
It was a big deal for the family. Unfortunately, leave it to the media (in this case, yours truly) to screw it up. Somehow, I was looking at the wrong roster and misidentified Naomi Baer.
I have since corrected the name in the story on the Daily Journal website.
Nathan Mollat can be reached by email: email@example.com or by phone: 344-5200 ext. 117. He can also be followed on Twitter @CheckkThissOutt.