Leading off today:
I'm guessing that whatever plans administrators and school board members at North Tonawanda had for Friday went out the window some time early Thursday evening. They have a situation on their hands that has more than just a slight chance of turning into a national story -- and it isn't pretty -- so they'll be needing to get their ducks in a row ASAP.
The relatively new wnyathletics.com website reported Friday on a protest before Thursday's 10-0 boys soccer loss to Grand Island, the state's top-ranked Class A team. Neither the background to the story nor the way a family's concerns got handled reflect well upon North Tonawanda.
An hour before the game, the mother of a North Tonawanda player staged a sit-in on the field to draw attention to alleged hazing and what she regarded as inaction by school authorities.
"This has been going on since last year. They turned a blind eye then, I won't let that happen again, Steve Toth, the husband of protestor Jeannette Toth, told the website. "Somebody needs to put a stop to this."
According to the Toths, their son and other players are being bullied by one or more teammates, and the behavior has included the destruction of personal property. Following the district's protocol didn't get satisfactory results for the family, leading to Jeannette Toth's sit-in at midfield.
According to the report, that protest drew the school board president to the field for a talk with the Toths and then the coach. At least one player was benched for the game in what seemed to be disciplinary action, and AD Jeff Alger addressed the team later to announce that the team would forfeit its next game if no one stepped forward by 3 p.m. on Friday to take responsibility for the incidents described by the Toths.
Powerful and meaningful action, right?
Perhaps. But that depends on who blinks by 3 o'clock. Setting the alarm clock at T-minus 20 or so hours to address a situation that obviously started quite some time ago might not be the best plan of attack.
Listen to this man: One of the legendary basketball coaches in state history happened to tweet this while I was prepping this blog. He wrote it totally unrelated to the situation outlined above, but his timing was impeccable -- and it applies to the entire chain of command, not just coaches.
Following up: There's more to yesterday's story that Cato-Meridian is forfeiting tonight's football game to Watertown IHC. Local media reports that the school's manpower shortage is related to disciplinary action.
"Cato forfeited (Friday's) game due to the suspension of a number of team members for an incident that took place off school grounds," Superintendent Noel Patterson informed The Citizen. "The team will resume its regular schedule on Oct. 1 against Beaver River."
Section 3 Executive Director John Rathbun told Syracuse.com that Cato-Meridian was investigating a hazing incident.
Girls soccer: Grand Island senior Madisyn Pezzino has become the sixth player in NYSPHSAA history to reach 200 career goals in girls soccer.
The Florida State commit scored five times on Thursday as Grand Island defeated North Tonawanda 8-1 in a Niagara Frontier League contest.
With 204 goals, she stands fifth on the all time New York State Public High School Athletic Association list, with Brittany LaPlant (Queensbury, 211), Mikayla Blumenstock (Poland, 209) and Kaitlin Robbins (Watertown IHC, 208) within striking distances.
Molly Petrucci of Buffalo City Honors set the state goals record last season with 234.