Arizona high school coach apologizes after fans racially taunt player
MESA, Ariz. – Glendale’s Mountain Ridge High School basketball team was back on the practice court Monday, but instead of celebrating their big win Friday night, players and coaches were still talking about the verbal abuse a teammate experienced from some opposing fans at Red Mountain High School in Mesa, KPHO reported.
“Obviously it was inappropriate behavior,” said Mountain Ridge coach Eli Lopez. “I know it wasn’t representative of the school and the whole student body. I was shocked that it happened.”
During the game, a number of students were seen making racial taunts that appeared to be directed at one of Mountain Ridge’s black players. The fans were white.
The player was waiting to inbound the ball near the stands when a number of fans started pounding their chests, scratching their armpits and making the sound of a monkey.
A photographer with azcentral.com took video of the incident, which didn’t last long, as Red Mountain High School’s principal walked over and escorted one of the students out of the gym.
Saikou Gueye is the student-athlete who was targeted.
Gueye said he heard what the fans were doing but chose to ignore it.
“If you react they are just going to get even bigger, and get worse and worse,” Gueye said. “I just move on and look past it.”
The Mesa Unified School District released this statement:
“Red Mountain High School prides itself on adhering to The Red Mtn Way, a behavior code that focuses on courage, respect and influence. The actions of one student do not define Red Mountain. Mr. Ryan will be investigating the incident further and will take any additional disciplinary actions warranted by the findings.”
Red Mountain’s basketball coach also reached out to Gueye to personally apologize.
“He actually called me and apologized for their kids and said that’s not how Red Mountain spirit is,” Gueye said. “I believe him. Red Mountain is a great school and it was just a few kids making some bad mistakes. I’m willing to look past it.”
Red Mountain High School Principal Jared Ryan sent a letter to families on Monday. In it he said, “All students who were involved with the incident now face school disciplinary action aligned to governing board and school district policy.