A social media firestorm followed an incident where members of the Schenectady girls soccer team were allegedly subjected to racially charged insults during a game against Niskayuna.
“They used the n-word, called them a monkey, told them to go back to Africa, ‘black girls don’t play soccer,’” said Damien Thomas, parent of a Schenectady soccer player.
Thomas says his 16-year-old daughter was the first player targeted. He calls the comments out of bounds.
“She asked me, ‘Dad, what does the color of my skin have to do with a soccer game?’ I wish I had the answer,” Thomas said.
Thomas’ wife wrote about the incident on Facebook, prompting hundreds of comments. Her post was shared more than 1,000 times.
Niskayuna superintendent Cosimo Tangorra Jr., along with Schenectady superintendent Larry Spring, together condemned what was said Tuesday. Tangorra Jr. says an investigation underway to determine the students responsible.
“What is important is that it is a serious investigation that is going to result in discipline, but more importantly, counseling and growth,” Tangorra Jr. said.
Spring says administrators are following the lead of students who are organizing meetings to build a greater sense of familiarity between the school communities.
“A number of kids who heard this felt like it is wildly inappropriate and needs to be addressed,” said Spring.
Thomas says he’s angry but also optimistic.
“I want someone to learn. As a parent, yes I am upset but what difference does it make if this kid doesn’t learn from what he did wrong?” said Thomas.
He hopes this terrible incident becomes a teachable moment.
“Nobody is looking to sweep this under the rug. We’re looking to address this issue head-on,” said Spring.
“That is a beautiful thing. If the superintendent does that, that is what I am looking for,” said Thomas.