Upperclassmen on the King Philip Regional High School football team allegedly had some of their sophomore teammates engage in boxing matches at an offsite camp in Maine last month, in what officials described as a “troubling and disappointing incident” that met the “legal definition of hazing.”
The behavior was detailed in a letter that principal Nicole Bottomley and district Superintendent Rich Drolet sent to the Wrentham school community Monday.
The letter said the football players had attended the team’s football camp in Naples, Maine, from Aug. 22 to Aug. 27, and that allegations of hazing were later reported to school officials.
Officials investigated and determined “the events that transpired during the football camp meet both the legal definition of hazing and the criteria outlined in the [King Philip] handbook,” the letter said.
The letter said there were “boxing matches between several 10th graders, with participants being chosen by several upperclassmen.” No coaches were present during the pugilism and no one was hurt, according to the letter.
“Although there were individual students who took a greater lead in orchestrating the hazing/boxing, there were many people involved and the behavior was so widespread and longstanding [that] there is a need to address this behavior with all individuals of the football program and all coaches, both paid and volunteer,” the letter said.
Wrentham police have also been informed of the allegations, per the letter.
“We view this as a very serious matter and have taken appropriate action,” the message said. “Additionally, were are reevaluating whether or not the district will approve any offsite camps in the future. We are also mandating leadership training for all coaches and captains, and hazing and bystander training for all players and coaches.”
No one will be able to duck the training, according to the letter.
“Training will be conducted during weekly evening practices to ensure every student and coach attends these training sessions,” the letter said. “This decision also follows the new disciplinary laws in Massachusetts that look at alterative consequences to detention, suspension, or expulsion.”
The letter said school officials will contact the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association and other outside groups to provide the training.
“We will not tolerate any form of bullying, harassment, or hazing,” the letter said. “We aim to foster an inclusive, welcoming environment and the actions of those at the football camp completely contradict the work we are trying to do . . . As always, our goal for our athletic programs and our entire [King Philip] community is to foster an environment where all students feel safe and supported and are free from any kind of hazing, bullying, harassment, or discrimination.”
Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.