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Hays HS volleyball players endure alleged racial slurs

By Amira Van Leeuwen

The Hays High School’s volleyball team traveled to Canyon High School for a volleyball game on Sept. 2 when Canyon students were heard yelling hateful and racial slurs at the Hays players during the varsity game, according to a news release from Hays High School.

Hays parent Jennifer Gardner Price took to social media to alert the community of the issue where she recounted what happened that night. Price said the front row of Canyon’s student section yelled “the N-word (hard R)” at her daughters and a few other teammates throughout the match.

“When my daughter missed her serve, they shouted ‘Make a play N-word-hard R!’” Price said in a Facebook post.

Price said their coaches told Canyon administration, but all the administration did was tell the boys to watch their mouths — no one was removed from the game.

“The boys were not kept away from our team after the game and they were allowed to continue to heckle the girls on their way out. An SRO had to escort our team out to their bus,” Price said. “My girls are destroyed and I am freaking pissed.”

On Sept. 6, Hays CISD Superintendent Dr. Eric Wright released a statement that said Hays High School was proud of their volleyball athletes for their “brave action in confronting hate and for their maturity in handling a situation to which no student should ever be subjected.”

“Hays CISD district athletics personnel and team leadership have formally reported the matter to Comal ISD,” Wright’s email said. According to the email, Comal ISD’s superintendent has assured Hays CISD that the district is taking the matter seriously.

The team met and chose not to do individual interviews but let their statement stand for the entire group in solidarity.

The Hays Hawks volleyball team issued a statement on Sept. 6, where they expressed that there was an insufficient response by the on-duty Canyon administrator.

“We also feel that not enough was done to remedy the situation after our coaching staff brought the incident to the attention of the Canyon High School administrator on duty,” the statement said. “It is unfortunate that our voices and concerns were not fully trusted, heard, and respected because adults did not hear the comments – only student-athletes heard. If the students involved could not be identified at that moment, the entire student section should have been removed.”

Although the Hays Hawks believe that the Canyon volleyball team was not at fault in this particular situation, nor is that a reflection of their program, the Hawks believe students in their student section represent Canyon High School, and “the administration did not adequately address the situation.”

“Last Friday was not just an instance of ‘kids being kids.’ It is an example of blatant racism and anyone who sat by or sits by and allows it to happen is equally as responsible as the students that used the inappropriate language to begin with,” the statement read. “If you do not stand against racism, you stand with it.”

Mandy Epley, Comal ISD’s acting superintendent, addressed the situation in a Facebook post the following day on Sept. 3, explaining that any one student or group of students that made any sort of racial comments at any point during or after the game will be disciplined to the “fullest extent possible.”

“Comal ISD and Canyon High School will not tolerate this sort of behavior as it does not represent who we are as a District or as a campus. The students, staff and community at Canyon High School have worked hard to create a culture of inclusion and acceptance,” Epley wrote. “Any comments that a single student, or group of students, may have made are not reflective of the overall student body at Canyon High School or Comal ISD.”

In the post, Epley personally apologized to the players and coaches on the Hays High School volleyball team, including the school and community for any inappropriate comments that may have been made.

The district and Canyon High School administration are currently investigating the allegations.

The Hays Free Press reached out to Comal ISD but did not receive a response.

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