High school soccer has made its way into the local news cycle in recent weeks, unfortunately for an unpleasant story that has been difficult for everyone involved.
It was originally reported that an alleged incident took place during a match between Penn Hills and Connellsville boys soccer teams on September 6 where racial slurs were supposedly directed at Penn Hills players.
After an initial investigation was conducted by both schools, followed by a subsequent announcement by the WPIAL that they couldn’t come to a decision because both sides had provided differing versions of what happened — a hearing was finally held on Monday night.
The closed-door meeting included two dozen witnesses who came in one-by-one to provide their perspectives of what happened.
The WPIAL listened to coaches, players, athletic directors, school principals, security personnel, trainers and parents.
Even Connellsville Mayor Greg Lincoln was among those providing testimony.
This entire situation has proven to be a difficult situation for everyone involved.
“Candidly, something was alleged to have occurred,” Tim O’Malley, WPIAL executive director, said to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “To hear from both sides and then try to come up with what actually did occur is very difficult.”
Penn Hills School officials reacted to what they felt were ‘disturbing reports’ by sending a letter of concern to WPIAL and cancelling all sporting events with Connellsville until the matter was investigated and resolved.
On the other hand, immediate public response from many in the Connellsville community supported its players, animatedly denying that any racial slurs were used.
Among those disputing Penn Hills’ claims included Connellsville’s chief of Police who was at the game and a father of two players.
“I swear on my kids’ lives it didn’t happen,” Bill Hammerle, told the Tribune-Review.
The WPIAL received written reports from both schools and also the three officials who worked the game.
The WPIAL then decided to have a hearing.
Among the media covering the meeting on Monday — was KDKA’s Ralph Iannotti.
— KDKA (@KDKA) September 25, 2018
Ironically, the two teams are scheduled to play a return match at Penn Hills on Tuesday evening.
Connellsville won the first match, 6-1, scoring six times after Penn Hills opened up the game with a goal.