PHILADELPHIA — Two high school soccer coaches in eastern Pennsylvania have resigned after their players hurled Ebola taunts at an opponent from West Africa.
Northampton Area Superintendent Joseph Kovalchik said the coaches resigned Tuesday. He met with the team Wednesday and vowed to discipline any students who violated the school’s code of conduct.
The comments came during a game last week against rival Nazareth Area High School, where the 16-year-old soccer standout from Guinea lives with a teammate’s family. The teen became upset and got in an altercation that led to his ejection from the game.
“I think some of it was trash talk. He had scored the first goal,” said Edward Bachert, a local police chief whose family took in the boy three years ago. “Getting him out of the game was certainly an advantage. I don’t know if that was the strategy.”
He thought the comments amounted to either “You have Ebola” or “I hope you get Ebola.”
The boy was shaken by the taunts, Bachert said. His parents still live in Guinea, and he worries about them given the Ebola outbreak there.
However, Nazareth students have rallied around him. Some have worn bracelets and posted tweets with the message, “EndRacism.”
“He’s a great kid. He’s very personable. He speaks four different languages,” Bachert said. “He fits right in with my (four) kids.”
Bachert, the police chief in Fountain Hill, which is about 60 miles north of Philadelphia, and his wife, Holly, have become the teen’s legal guardians in the U.S. They hope to help him attend college here. He came to the U.S. with older siblings.
The Northampton coaches’ resignations were first reported by The Morning Call of Allentown. The coaches did not immediately return messages left Wednesday at possible home numbers.
“When there’s a teachable moment, we’re going to take advantage of that,” Kovalchik said of his meeting with the Northampton players. “Education is life-long. It’s ongoing.”