Eight highschool soccer coaches have been suspended on expenses of tricking a Hebrew Israelite participant into consuming a pork pizza
The 17-year-old unnamed student is an aspiring senior at Canton McKinley High School, where he was an attacking lineman on the football team. After skipping an earlier weightlifting session due to an injury, the team’s coaches told him to eat a whole pepperoni pizza on May 24 as a punishment while his teammates were forced to carry heavy slices while training around him said attorney Edward Gilbert.
The teenager reminded the head coach several times that he did not eat pork. The student had previously told the coaching staff several times that he was a Hebrew Israelite and that he did not eat pork because of his religion, the lawyer added.
“We claim the coach was aware of this and deliberately ordered a pork pizza for this penalty,” said Gilbert.
After the trainers yelled at him and threatened the team with further exercises, the student was allowed to remove the pepperoni and some of the cheese and then eat the pizza, even though she thought it was unclean because of leftover pork, the lawyer said.
Football head coach Marcus Wattley did not respond to requests for comments on the emails and phone numbers listed for him.
Police are investigating
“The canton police were contacted by the school system yesterday to prepare a report on the allegedly possible incident,” Police Chief Jack Angelo told CNN. “We are currently investigating and our findings will be presented to the Canton City Attorney’s Office for any allegations to be resolved.”
Superintendent Jeff Talbert made a statement on the district website Wednesday, in part saying that the school’s initial investigation into the incident has been completed and that disciplinary action will follow.
“The investigation found that the identified coaches engaged in inappropriate, degrading, and divisive behavior in a misguided attempt to instill discipline in the student-athlete,” said Talbert. “This behavior will not be tolerated and further, as yet undefined disciplinary measures for employees will follow.”
The student wants to be transferred to another school after the “traumatic” episode and needed therapy, Gilbert told CNN.
“They see coaches as role models,” said Gilbert. “The trust has been violated here.”