Officials from the Elkhorn Area School District are investigating racist taunts directed at Beloit Memorial High School soccer players by a group of its students attending a game.
The incident happened the night of April 8 as the Beloit Memorial girls varsity soccer team visited Elkhorn.
Beloit Memorial girls soccer coach Brian Denu said the Elkhorn students taunted black and Latina girls soccer players with racial slurs and chants like “Donald Trump, build that wall.”
“Those are just words you’ll never be able to take back from those kids and an experience that you wish you could take back,” Denu said. “It was really disturbing for them.”
Denu said the chants affected some of his players to the point they had to leave the game.
“They came off the field and weren’t able to finish the game because they were too upset and distraught over what happened to them,” Denu said. “One of the girls was cradled in the arms of one of our assistant coaches for a good 15 to 20 minutes.”
Denu said even though the chants came from a small group of Elkhorn students, their words had a big impact on his players.
“I could just see the hurt and pain on their face and know that this was obviously something that they hadn’t seen before,” Denu said. “You know, it was from a small pocket of the Elkhorn fans, but those words are things you can’t take back.”
Denu said he and other coaches consoled players during and after the game.
“As a white male, I can’t tell them I know that this is like, I know how you feel, because that’s never happened to me,” he said. “But I wanted them to know that we were there to support them, we were there to fight for them, and we’re going to get through everything together.”
Denu said he hopes the Elkhorn students think about the hurt and pain they caused his players.
“I’d like them to just kind of take in what they said, think about their words before they say them. My guess is that they’re good kids that have some really bad ideas in their head,” Denu said. “But those were hurtful and words that you say can last with people for a very very very long time.”
Denu said he hopes his players never have to experience the kind of racist taunts they did that Thursday night.
“Seeing the impact on those kids is something I’ll never forget as a coach,” he said. “It’s 2016. You think that you know that people don’t have these views.”
In an email to News 3 Saturday, Elkhorn district administrator Jason Tadlock said school officials are looking into what happened.
“We have confirmed that some students near the sidelines yelled inappropriate/offensive comments toward some of the players, and a student or two from the student section,” Tadlock said. “Our investigation is ongoing, and I would be happy to comment further once it is completed. ”
Denu said he is thankful for the quick response from Elkhorn’s coaches and administrators.