As an editorial in the Caledonian-Record of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, put it: “Friday night five teen-age girls at Danville High School became five young adults, and they did so with class.” I thought you’d like to know the story.
The Friday night in question was January 11, 2002. The setting was a packed gymnasium just prior to the start of the varsity game. The five girls were members of the Danville High School basketball team — four of them starters. They weren’t in uniform to play that night and won’t be for the remainder of this season. They were there to explain why they had been kicked off the team.
They were there to own a serious infraction of team rules. They were there to support their coach’s decision to take them off the team. They were there to let the town know there was a problem in their little community that needs to be addressed. And they did it with appropriate contrition rather than defensiveness.
While school had been out for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, the girls had gone to a party with several of their friends. It was New Year’s Eve. There was alcohol there. And the five girls all drank some.
Coach Tammy Rainville has a zero-tolerance rule on drugs and alcohol for the members of her team. Every kid who plays for her knows that rule. So when classes resumed after the break and accounts of holiday parties were shared, rumors about the five girls began closing in on them. Coach Rainville didn’t have to confront them, for they got together and decided to go to her with the full story.
The coach said she couldn’t back down on her policy. And the players — two juniors and three seniors — agreed. That Friday night in the gym was part of their public support of the coach’s decision.
One of the seniors spoke last. “We hope you will understand that we are not bad kids. We made a mistake… What we did was definitely not worth it. We hope this event will make everyone open their eyes and realize that there is a big drug and alcohol problem in our community,” she said. “And if you work with us to try to solve this problem, you will help us feel that we have not been thrown off our basketball team for nothing.” The five left the floor to deafening applause.
The Danville High School girls basketball team may not win another game this year. But they’ve learned something about personal responsibility, the effect of one’s actions on others, and integrity that will serve them well throughout life.
Rubel Shelly [email protected]
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(c) 2002 Rubel Shelly. Used by permission.