The winter sports season will open this week without several key starters after police cited more than 30 students for underage drinking at a party Saturday, Dec. 1. Cited athletes will miss at least the first game of the season.
Approximately 80 students attended the party, for which the host parents, who were home, had hired security guards to ensure that no alcohol was brought in or consumed, said students who were at the party.
Montgomery County Police public information officer Britta Thomas provided the following account of what happened:
After one guest appeared to be highly intoxicated, Fire & Rescue was called. The emergency team called the Montgomery County police, Thomas said. The intoxicated student was sent to the hospital and was released Sunday morning.
When police arrived at the house around 9:45 p.m., they administered Breathalyzer tests to partygoers, issuing about 33 alcohol citations. Students who refused the Breathalyzer were cited for alcohol possession. The consequences of a citation vary on a case-by-case basis but often include an alcohol awareness class and sometimes a community service obligation.
Principal Alan Goodwin said he heard about the party on Sunday from athletic director Andy Wetzel, who learned about it from team coaches. Student-athletes had told their coaches about their involvement, Goodwin said. The administration doesn’t seek out the names of cited students, he added. However, if Goodwin learns who they are, he often speaks with them and gives them community service in the school office in order to get to know the students and counsel them.
Administrators only know the names of student-athletes in this incident and do not expect to learn more, Goodwin said.
Some students argue that athletes often face disproportionate in-school consequences, compared to other students who get citations.
“There’s always a disparity issue,” Goodwin said. “The athletes sign a pledge to refrain from such things. Athletes represent the school, and you want them to represent it in a role model way.”
In the past, students have been barred from other extracurricular activities, such as school music concerts, Goodwin said, referring to a similar incident in December 2011 when at least 35 students were cited at a party.
The event also raised the question of whether the potential for punishment discourages partygoers from calling 911 in a medical emergency. Though the issue is worth discussing, the school will continue giving consequences for citations, Goodwin said.
“Over the years, we haven’t lost a student yet because of the variety of things we do to keep students safe,” he said. “One of them is consequences for their behavior. To suddenly withdraw from that would be difficult.”