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Hockey league bans students from Pa. school games after female goalie verbally assaulted

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Students at a Pennsylvania junior/senior high school have been barred from attending hockey games for the rest of the season after dozens of them shouted inappropriate and sexually explicit chants at the only female hockey player from a visiting team.

The incident took place during a game between the Armstrong River Hawks and the Mars Fighting Planets on October 28 in the student section of Belmont Sports Complex in Kittanning, Pennsylvania.

Videos that have since circulated online show Armstrong students shouting, “She’s a w****,” and “Suck our d****,” among other inappropriate comments at the Mars female goalie.

Armstrong County commissioners, who have jurisdiction over the Belmont Complex where the incident took place, stepped in when it came to disciplinary action. They informed Armstrong administration that no students grades seven through twelve from Armstrong Junior/Senior High School in Kittanning, Pennsylvania will be able to attend any games this season, including playoffs, except siblings of players accompanied by a parent, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Hockey is not technically a school-sponsored sport in Western Pennsylvania, instead it’s considered a club sport run by parents and boosters.

“In my mind, this should’ve been stopped immediately by anyone that was there who has any moral value at all. I’m disgusted by it. … There were a lot of people there who could’ve handled this differently,” Armstrong High School principal, Kirk Lorigan told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Nevertheless, many are hoping for more targeted, disciplinary action for those who participated in the unwarranted chant. Lorigan is reportedly leading an ongoing investigation into the incident and told the Post-Gazette that “appropriate school discipline has been used.”

The nature of the disciplinary action was not revealed by Lorigan. Administrators also refused to divulge details on actions taken by the school at the public portion a school board meeting on November 4th.

For future games, however, Armstrong did demand the hockey association hire and pay for two security guards from the high school to attend all games.

There were two security guards present at October 28 game that were hired by the venue, but they did nothing to stop the chants.

“We insisted that they begin to use our school security,” Lorigan told the Post-Gazette, “That was very well-received from all of our stakeholders…We want to be the ones to manage our student body.”

The school will also require an Armstrong employee to work each game as a supervisor.

“Clearly, the incident that happened on October 28 was completely unacceptable and the entire hockey community must take steps to ensure that any similar conduct will never happen again. We are hopeful that the attention this incident has drawn will shed light on the issues our female athletes face which must not be tolerated and that this attention will help with eliminating this type of conduct from our sport,” the Mars Hockey Club Board of Directors said in a statement following the incident.

“We are appreciative of the outpouring of support for her and join the many in voicing our support.  We are proud of our goalie both as a student athlete and for her resilience in persevering though these events.  Above all, we look forward to having her back on the ice having fun and stopping pucks for Mars,” the Board wrote.

The Armstrong School District issued a formal apology to the Mars School District and also plans to apologize to the goalie herself, the New York Times reported.

“We are confident that the Armstrong Area School District’s efforts will lead to appropriate discipline for those involved while also minimizing the potential for future incidents,” Dr. Mark Gross, the Mars district superintendent told the New York Times.

In a heartwarming rally behind the young, female goalie and other young girls in the sport, a few Olympic athletes sent words of encouragement.

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