Girls Soccer: Lowell put on probation for inappropriate postgame celebration

By Jeremy Balan

The Lowell High School girls soccer team has been put on probation for four years by the San Francisco Section.

The sanction was originally reported by the Twitter feed of The Lowell, the school’s school newspaper, and has been confirmed by Lowell athletic director Rob Ray and SF Section commissioner Don Collins.

According to multiple sources involved, the disciplinary action stems from the moments after the Cardinals’ 8-0 win over Washington in the Academic Athletic Association championship game on Saturday at Boxer Stadium.

After the final whistle, eight Lowell seniors removed their jerseys to reveal T-shirts that displayed an inappropriate phrase. There was also a similar incident in the 2009 season, in which three of the eight seniors from this season’s incident were involved and suspended for.

“It violates our sportsmanship rule,” Collins said. “[Players] must be respectful, including on their clothing and attire.”

The probation’s stipulations are that if the soccer team is to violate the section’s sportsmanship guidelines again, Lowell head coach Marcos Estebez will face suspension.

The eight seniors were also officially suspended for one game if they participate in any other spring sports, but Estebez likely handed down the stiffest punishment.

Estebez said he has held out every Lowell player, including those who weren’t involved in the incident, from postseason awards and the All-AAA team. As an undefeated team and the league’s champion, the Cardinals would have likely earned most of the top awards and the majority of the All-AAA honors.

“It’s important that when people act the way they did, they know there are team consequences,” Estebez said. “They didn’t think it would affect anyone other than themselves. It was stupid.”

Estebez did not hide is displeasure with the incident.

“It was embarrassing for the program, it’s embarrassing for the sport and especially in the venue of the championship game,” Estebez said. “It was a 8-0 smackdown and we need to rub it in their faces? It was very embarrassing.”

The eight Lowell seniors involved were also required to write letters of apology to Washington and to the section, and were barred from participating in two senior events by the school.

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36 Comments

  1. JJ says:

    What was wriiten on the t-shirts? Will this mean that Lowell will drop from the rankings as the 51st best public high school in the nation to a lower rank?

    • hoops fan says:

      How is this even relevant? The US News and World Report ranking is based on academic achievement.

    • sfcool says:

      What’s lost in the story is that 20 Lowell players did not participate in any way with the SENIOR plan to wear the inappropriate T-shirts and they are the ones being punished. It’s really unfair to these girls who love soccer, and have played all season with heart, dedication and complete respect for their opponents. What the seniors did was wrong, no excuses. But while they graduate in a few weeks, the consequences of their bad judgement will stick to the remaining players who are completely innocent. It’s unfortunate that the League and the Lowell coach decided to punish the uninvolved players and tarnish the reputation of an incredible team. Collective punishment in this case is just not right!

  2. Renzo Lujan says:

    What did the shirts Actually say?

    • jbalan says:

      If I wanted that in the article, I would have included it.

      • Renzo Lujan says:

        JBalan, you don’t have to respond to your readers by being a jerk. It’s not going to get you anywhere. It’s tough to really have an educated opinion on the topic without knowing what the shirts actually said. It’s unsportsmanlike regardless but some could obviously be worse than others.

    • Alan Smithee says:

      (A portion of this comment has been edited)

      In the context of the Wash-Lowell rivalry and the not-very-sportsmanlike comments that fly back and forth in the stands and on the field, in most sports, between these schools, girls and boys, it’s pretty tame. That Washington parents and players complained is in and of itself lame. Don Collins might want to attend some other AAA sporting events to get a feel for the flavor in the stands and on the field. Almost every game features any number of moments that flout the sportsmanship rule he invokes here.

      We are not a Lowell family, or even in the AAA. We attended the Lowell-Bal baseball semifinal last week and were amazed at the, apparently, sanctioned razzing of the pitchers by both benches, and the catcalls that rained down from the stands. After Lowell lost a close 1-0 game, taunts of “do your homework” and the like came down from the Bal side. This is the standard of AAA sportsmanship Don Collins and Rob Ray seek to defend in suspending these girls and putting Lowell on probation?

      How does a Lowell soccer player give her all next year, knowing that her league, her school and her coach don’t have her back?

  3. Ric Bussey says:

    Was the statement on the shirts directly pointed towards the Washington girls or was it just offensive??? Did it violate freedom of speech? Without going into specifics can you give a little more insight? I’m curious because after going to AAA games since 1965, I’ve never heard of a team facing years of probation.

    • JJ says:

      I find out what the shirts said, and I find it offensive. You don’t write that saying on your shirt after you win the championship game. If you say what was written on the shirts to a teacher, I guarantee you will be suspended.

      • SeanP says:

        JJ–I tend to disagree with you on this point. It is not nearly as offensive as what the girls did two years ago. I don’t know about being suspended for saying what they wrote on their shirts. Detention for a week and letters of apology, or even better, make the girls go to Washington and personally apologize in person-yes.

        I went back and re-read what I had posted earlier, and also agree with tkpaq’s response, but, then again, who is to say that the coach didn’t know what they had done the previous night? I would be more embarrassed by running up the score when there was no need to. Doesn’t this constitute poor sportsmanship as well? They were up 3-0 in the first 10 minutes, and lead 6-0 at half. Why add insult to injury?

        Bottom line—-it was tasteless and wrong, and I understand that some sort of punishment was needed, but four years? I just believe that that is way too harsh. I believe the girls will learn from this and take it to heart and become better women in the long run.

        • JJ says:

          The punishment is not harsh. Basically, if Lowell doesn’t show up another opponent or wear inappropriate t-shirts next year, Lowell can still play in the AAA championship soccer game, have players named to the All-AAA team, go to the All-Star game, banquets, etc….A harsh and just punishment would’ve been a forfeit in the 2012 AAA championship game, thereby giving WASH the trophy; that should’ve been an appropriate punishment, in my eyes.

  4. SeanP says:

    As a parent of one of the Lowell soccer players (not a senior), I was very surprised about this “probation”. Were the shirts that the senior wore in bad taste—a little. Was it a mistake—yes. Was it serious enough to warrant 4 years–I don’t believe so. Like someone mentioned above, the AAA should go to the “battle of the birds” basketball game and hear what the kids yell in the stands, such as “it’s all right, it’s okay, you should see our GPA”, and one of the lowell favorites, “lowell rejects”. Wouldn’t this violate the AAA conduct for good sportsmanship? Why hasn’t the basketball team been put on probation? I also hear the baseball team is pretty “chirpy” as well. Are they facing 4 years of probation?
    As an SHC grad in the late 80’s, I can tell you that we, along with SI and Riordan, did much worse on and off the field and never a hint of any discipline from the schools (unless it really crossed the line of decency), or the WCAL.
    It’s sad that this team has to be made an example of. Could it be because they have dominated for the past 15 years? Could it be because they didn’t give up a goal in league this year? Are they being made an example of because they are too good?
    I feel bad for the girls not being able to participate in the All-Star game yesterday, and being held out of the awards, and the all AAA team.
    Oh well, all I can say is wait until next year. We will see how this team responds, and what kind of damage they do in league because of this.

    And Jbalan, I understand you not wanting to put in the article what the shirts said, but it is news and should be reported on. It’s not like the phrase had any swear words in it. Just my two cents.

    • Ric Bussey says:

      Sean P, I agree with you 100%. Well said!

      • tkpaq says:

        What the girls wrote on their t-shirts is unacceptable, insulting and embarrassing. As a Lowell alum with a son who is a senior at Lowell, participated in varsity sports for four years and captain , he understands how to conduct himself in a competition. I applaud the coach for taking swift action, he too should be embarrassed, there is no excuse for this kind of conduct on the field or anywhere else in the competitive arena.. PERIOD.

    • HS Sports Fan says:

      While students attending sporting events have been known to yell insults to the opposing schools’ players and fans; I have witnessed the Lowell athletic director put a stop to such chants whenever his is present and hears inappropriate chants. He does not condone the insulting chants quoted throughout these comments and he makes a concerted effort to inform fans how to provide positive support to the athletes.

      The examples of insulting chants presented in many of the comments here all refer to student fans directing insults to the players or opponent’s student fans. What sets this incident apart from the examples is that in this case the soccer players (not the fans) were insulting their opponents – that is unsportsmanlike conduct. There is no way it should be excused.

    • ERG says:

      There is a difference between what fans yell in the stands and what the players put on their backs as a direct insult to the opposing team. Sportsmanship is all about respect for your opponents, win or lose. As a parent of a Lowell athlete on two teams, I believe the probation is fitting and I would hope the same message would be sent to my athlete if she behaved in this way. You are not “first team” if you rub your opponent’s face in it.

  5. JJ says:

    Honestly, the “probation” looks nothing more than a warning. So after the 4 years probation is up, Lowell can do the same thing and get another warning (probation). I thought probations were like in college, where they can’t go to a BOWL game. In this case, Lowell can’t play in the AAA championship game. Nope. The only punishment is that none of the players will make the All-AAA team. China should’ve cried unsportswomanlike when Brandi Chastain took off her jersey and showed off her sports bra.

    • Ric Bussey says:

      I say make the punishment more personal to those who were involved. Even in college unsportsmanlike conduct is not punishable by probation or a loss of all-league status. For those who were involved maybe a 1-2 day suspension would be warranted especially since they are representing their schools and good conduct should be displayed at all time. For those seniors involved, especially since they had done something two years earlier, maybe taking away their graduation walk across the stage would be a good lesson. It would especially detour any underclassmen from trying this again! I do believe the Commissioner made the best decision he could have made under the circumstances.

  6. Jim says:

    Yea, as a journalist, you have to report this. But I do understand the material is sensitive since it involves HS kids…

  7. joan says:

    Food for thought
    “As an undefeated team and the league’s champion, the Cardinals would have likely earned most of the top awards and the majority of the All-AAA honors.
    Last year with a similar record the league totally overlooked the girls for top honors.

    According to multiple sources involved…… except the girls themselves.
    Had they have been asked, I believe they would have communicated that the ominous two words they chose were meant as a fist pumping celebration of a hard fought for year. As unfortunate as the words were, they were not malicious.

    “Alan” in the previous post summed it up best.
    “How does a Lowell soccer player give her all next year, knowing that her league, her school and her coach don’t have her back?”
    Lowell did not even mention the championship game in their weekly newsletter and the only administrator who attended was the one assigned to duty that day. She did not speak to the girls about the event then or ever. There were no more than 20 students out of student body or more that 2000, attending the game.
    The school administration only spoke to the girls after the punishment had been decided.
    The coach has not had a face to face with the girls since the championship game.

    The girls have apologized heartily to the Washington coach, player and Don Collins.

    • kevin says:

      Joan you are simple misinformed and you do not understand what schools and coaches are trying to teach. These girls fully undesrtood that they were doing something wrong or they would not have hidden it from their coach and they did this sort of thing two years ago and were told it was unacceptable. The punishment back them was obviously not enough because they didnt learn what sportsmanship is. Everyone is making a bigger deal out of what was a bad decision again by these girls. We all should commend the administration and their coach for trying to make sure it doesnt happen again. Why only 20 students showed up has nothing to do with this, the coach has been dealing with many issues with this and has a meeting set up. Stateing that the school and her coach do not have their back is rediculas. What they have is the back of all the other student athletes that do not act this way, they have the back of all the former students of lowell in making sure their lagacy of good sportsmanship. These girls knew they were doing something wrong and were representing not only themselves but their team and school and still choose to do it, now they suffer the very meaningless penalties and we all hope everyone learns. Having said that it was only unsportsmanlike behavior, it wasnt violant or completely over the top so everyone should just let Lowell deal with it and move on. Other schools have done way worse things with less press.

  8. AAA says:

    I agree with JJ, what is “probation,” is it like college where Lowell will be banned from post-season play, lose scholarships which in this case would be roster spots taken away or just a slap on the wrist and a “don’t do it again.” I also agree with SeanP, the basketball and baseball has done worst than the soccer team

    • joan says:

      If we are to make the college “probation” argument consider the fact that probation is handed out for offenses far beyond inappropriate Tshirts.

      Also the girl’s soccer does not have any tournament besides city.

    • kevin says:

      Hey AAA

      dont start bringing other teams into it, the lowell basketball program/teams have never engaged in anything like this. I could sit back and list 50 unsportsmanlike issues with other schools basketball teams and lowell wouldnt be involved in one…..Lets not start this up…the girls made a mistake for the second time and lets let Lowell and the AAA deal with it. Lets just enjoy all the good things in High school athletics

  9. Mcl says:

    This Is a sad sight to see. As a Lowell player, I knw the seniors are all very regretful. The punishment for next yer isn’t exactly fair to all the under classmen who will e playing next year. Th underclassmrn had absolutley nothing to do with this incident, and yet they’re rig punished.
    The girls involved in this incident have been punished too harshly. They shouldn’t have mad the tshirts, and the message was inappropriate. They should be accountable or their actions and have consequences. But everyone mus rememer that we are teenagers. The Lowell administration punished the girls way too much.
    What’s saddest is that the team has been brought up to have this elitest mentality. Hopefully this incident will force the team to reconsider their values.

    • L.N. Smithee says:

      O.J. Mayo is an NBA basketball player. Reggie Bush is an NFL football player. Both played college ball at USC. Both are millionaires, but they have one thing in common: Both of their names are tarnished forever because of their improprieties when playing at their alma mater. The Trojans’ basketball & football programs cannot compete for a national championship until after next season and lost vital scholarships which they could offer to replenish their programs, all because Mayo and Bush — with the help of enablers and other-way-lookers at the school — thought they could bend NCAA rules and get away with it because they were going pro, and wouldn’t be there to personally suffer the circumstances.

      The fact that the sanctions will be inflicted on the Lowell underclass(wo)men IS the punishment for the seniors. They’ll have to live with that for the rest of their lives, and the other kids will hold them in lower esteem for being the cause of restrictions on their experience. And unlike elite college jocks like Mayo & Bush, there’s little chance any of the Lowell girls will be able to use professional soccer checks as handkerchiefs.

  10. Jdazzle says:

    This article makes no sense and I have no context for how warranted the sanctions are. Come on man.

  11. Renzo Lujan says:

    Since the journalist isn’t doing his job and allowing us to form our own opinions, will someone in the forum please tell me what the shirts said?

    • jbalan says:

      Continuing to ask someone to post what the shirts said while trying to demean me is not going to work. I chose not to include what the shirts said and that’s not going to change, in the story or in the comments section.

      • Renzo Lujan says:

        No democracy here I suppose!

        • jbalan says:

          If it was a democracy, it would probably be a very different web site.

          • GCJ 01 says:

            Don’t you just love how people act when they don’t get their way. The funny thing is, if people just read the comments on this site, they could figure out what was said. Even I don’t know what the shirts said, but I do have an idea. I maybe wrong, but what was said on the shirts isn’t the main issue. Lowell has done this in the past and actions needed to be taken. Great job to the AAA for doing so.

  12. Irishman says:

    From the SF Section’s point of view, this isn’t just an instance where a few kids did something stupid. This is a case of a school repeatedly breaking the same rule, which means it is the coach’s and the school administration’s fault as well. The coach can come down hard on the team after the fact all he wants, but clearly he is allowing that type of bad sportsmanship to stick around in his program.

    It is too bad for the girls who are innocent, of course. But I appreciate the CIF having and sticking to their sportsmanship rules. If more parents and coaches and schools required that kind of good behavior, this wouldn’t be an issue.

    And I support SFPreps for not printing the offending words. Free speech doesn’t preside here-they choose not to print or allow comments with swears either. It’s an editorial decision. The story is the probation and sanctions, not the t-shirts.

    • JJ says:

      The 2-word phrase didn’t have swear words in it, however, it was an offensive comment and it’s good that the phrase was omitted from the article because it could lead to other High School kids using the phrase in their everyday social life. These senior kids are supposed to be role models for the underclassmen.

  13. Renzo L says:

    I’ll say this. What the Lowell team is wrong. They showed VERY poor sportsmanship.

    If there were swear words involved, I would obviously not expect them to be included in the article. With that said, I just feel like it is the responsibility of the writer to provide all the facts. That’s just a matter of opinion though. The Lowell team definitely needed to be punished. I simply felt like depending on what was written, I could have had an opinion of whether the punishment was just right or not enough.

    Again, it’s just a matter of opinion. I understand if people don’t see the point of finding out what was written on the shirts.

    Looking back at my posts, I did responded rudely because I felt like the responses I received were rude. I would like to apologize to the journalist for that.

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