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Student athletes suspended for partying

NORTH KITSAP — Students from at least four of the seven fall sports teams at North Kitsap High School have been suspended from competing for a minimum of 15 days.

The suspensions are the results of an ongoing investigation. Principal Kathy Prasch and assistant principal John Waller are currently looking into a party that took place during Labor Day weekend, where some students consumed alcohol.

Consuming alcohol violates a code of conduct agreement athletes sign at the beginning of the season.

The majority of the students who have been suspended from their teams admitted their participation in the party to reduce the penalty, Prasch said.

“We still don’t know the amount of students who were at the party,” Prasch said. “Students have continued to come forward and admit they were there.”

The severity of the punishment depends on whether or not the students went into the house and drank alcohol at the party, or stayed outside and did not participate, Prasch said.

The North administration found out about the party after concerned parents and students told Prasch photos of the party that were posted on Facebook.

So far, students involved with boys tennis, cross country, girls soccer and the football team have been identified and suspended from league play, but are still allowed to practice with the team.

For the coaches, having players suspended is problematic because they are forced to rebuild their lineups, said North athletic coordinator Craig Barry. Barry has not heard to much from other coaches about the issue, but said each is handling it in their own way.

“This adds an extra burden on the coaches,” Barry said. “They are all focusing on their upcoming matches while this is going on.”

With two losses in the pre-season, Viking football head coach Steve Frease is unsure how the suspensions will affect his team, but adjusted his lineup for tonight’s game against North Mason High. If it were possible, Frease would like a system set in place where coaches could test students regularly for substance abuse, he said.

“It’s just like having an injured player,” Frease said. “We’ll just have to adjust to this quickly and younger players will be expected to step up.”

For those younger players, Frease said this is an opportunity to show coaches their potential.

Other coaches, including head soccer coach Dee Taylor, had to adjust their rosters quickly.

The girls soccer team faced the Kingston Buccaneers on Sept. 14 and Taylor made last-minute adjustments before the game. The suspensions gave some yougner players more time on the field. Some had to change positions to fill in for suspended players

Because it’s early in the season, Taylor said the freshman players should be able to catch up to where they need to be, but the outcome of the season is uncertain.

The other fall sports coaches could not be reached by presstime, and some who were contacted declined to comment.

A first-time violation of the code in the athletic handbook can result in a suspension from league games for a maximum of 60 schools days, but no less than 15 days, if the student admits he or she violated the code.

If a student is caught violating the code through an investigation, the penalty is more severe, with an exclusion from participating on the team for 60 days or the remainder of the season, whichever is longer.

“I don’t doubt more parties have been held this year, but maybe it takes something like this for students to learn,” Prasch said.

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