NEC Field Hockey Team Harassed By Husson Fans

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An incident where rowdy fans at Husson University yelled disparaging comments at the New England College (NEC) field hockey team led to an apology letter from Husson University Athletics.

The game took place at Husson University in Bangor, Maine on September 25th, 2021.

There was a “failure by Husson to appropriately manage the game,” said Dave DeCew, Director of New England College Athletics. DeCew was not in attendance at the game but said it was “a very threatening environment.”

The game was set “on their homecoming so […] they had tents set up where people were able to consume alcohol and things like that, so I am not saying that people in the stands were consuming alcohol but again they had the option to,” Field Hockey Head Coach, Carly Sweeney, said.

“After the game, when the team was coming off the field, we had a lot of belligerent fans that were harassing our athletes,” she said.

“We had one of our student-athletes intervene, who happens to be African-American and because she tried to intervene, she was greeted with some homophobic and racial slurs,” Sweeney said.

In response, Sweeney, and Assistant Field Hockey Coach Rony Jacober decided to move the team into the locker room.

“We got our athletes into the building, and they preceded to come at us, as coaches,” Sweeney said. She continued, “I wouldn’t say it was a physical altercation, but we had fans get very close to the both of us in a way that was not appropriate.”

Sweeney and Jacober both agree that the Husson Athletic staff was not prepared for the situation.

“From a game management standpoint, they had some hiccups on that end which helped fuel that fire,” Sweeney said.

“I think this was such a personal attack on coaches and athletes specifically that it was just escalated and on a different level than your typical heckling,” Sweeney said.

The NewEnglander reached out to Frank Pergolizzi, Husson Athletic Director, who referred all comments to Eric Gordon, Executive Director of Communications at Husson. Gordon said he was unaware of an incident.

“None of our staff is aware of any issues that occurred,” Gordon said.

However, DeCew shared a portion of a letter he received from Husson athletics which read in part:

“On behalf of everyone involved in athletics at Husson University, including the Husson University Field Hockey team and the entire Husson University Department of Athletics, we want to apologize to you and your field hockey team for your campus experience on Saturday, September 25. Any disparaging statements made by fans do not represent our values. We want all teams visiting our campus to feel welcome as they engage in friendly competition.”

Sweeney said the letter came approximately two weeks after the game.

“I think we were a little taken off guard with how long it took to receive it and also the person it was addressed to because it was not addressed to the field hockey program, it was addressed to our Athletic Director Dave DeCew who was not there. It didn’t happen to him,” she said.

“It took some time for them to get it to us,” said DeCew. “I was happy to see there was some true ownership about the situation.”

The team is still dealing with what happened, Sweeney mentioned, but she found that it brought the team closer.

“They rallied together,” she said.

“For us coaches it is not about trying to bury it and move forward, it’s about the education piece. It’s one of those messages where you just want to say ‘What happened wasn’t okay.’ And we need to continue to educate people, we need to continue and make people aware, and we need to make sure [we] protect [our] own,” Sweeney said.

 

NEC Field Hockey players did not respond to request for interviews.

 

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