STREATOR, Ill. (CBS) — Student athletes in Streator were crying foul ball Thursday night, claiming upperclassmen hazed and harassed freshmen right in front of their eyes.
As CBS 2’s Eric Cox reported, it allegedly happened on the coach’s watch, and even in her home. Cox talked to a player and parents about what their next move might be.
Candles were lit and teenagers were zip-tied in a short clip bearing the caption “freshmen initiation.”
“They blindfolded them,” said Mary Smith, a senior and former volleyball player at Woodland High School in Streator, “and the coaches did nothing about it.”
Smith told CBS 2 the seniors on her team put incoming players through the hazing ritual in her coach’s basement last season.
The teens were blindfolded and zip-tied, Smith said, “and then walked them down the stairs, sat them in chairs, and made them hold candles with their hands zip-tied, and they just like said stupid stuff to them.”
As for where the idea came from, Smith said, “Some people want to say that it was a reenactment scene from ‘Pitch Perfect.’”
But Smith felt it was in bad taste.
“I took the video for those reasons,” Smith said.
Smith has now decided to share the video after almost a year of silence.
“There was actually a girl that refused to be blindfolded,” said her mother, Teresa Smith.
Teresa Smith said head volleyball coach Ginger Walter is to blame and should be held accountable. Both Teresa and Mary Smith said Walter’s voice is heard in the video.
“It is hazing, and anything could’ve happened to any one of those girls – dropped a candle, fallen down the stairs,” Teresa Smith said.
She and other parents have started a position to have Coach Walter removed. On Wednesday night, the issue was brought before the district’s board of education.
It was item 14.5 on the board agenda – “possible discipline or dismissal of coach.” Despite Mary Smith and four other student athletes testifying, the board did not budge – choosing to keep the coach intact as another season starts.
“It hurts, because it feels like no one’s in my corner; that I can’t go to anyone for help; that if I go to my administration, they’re just going to sweep it under the rug,” Mary Smith said.
CBS 2’s Cox reached out to the Woodland administrators. They assured him that they investigate all complaints and take action when needed, but they will not talk about personnel matters.
“Nothing being done about it is just not acceptable,” Mary Smith said.
CBS 2 also reached out to Coach Walter for comment. We were still waiting to hear back as of 6 p.m.