Student athletes, coaches discuss why they don’t allow hazing at Watkins Mill


Jade Pinkowitz

Coach Maxwell Bero talks to sophomore Baebaa Sayeh during a game. Coaches and athletes alike confirmed that hazing is not tolerated at Watkins Mill.

By Jessica Cruz , Watkins Mill High School

Recent allegations of hazing in Montgomery County Public Schools athletic teams have raised concerns about supervision and appropriate behavior of students in organized groups.

But at Watkins Mill High School, the overwhelming response from student athletes and coaches is that the school environment would never allow such actions to occur.

According to the MCPS policy for athletes, R.A.I.S.E core values, hazing is considered to be “any activity expected of someone joining or participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers them, regardless of a person’s willingness to participate.”

Bullying is defined in the same source as “an aggressive act by one or more individuals where the intent is to cause physical or psychological harm; this includes cyber bullying.”

“I tell [my players] that [hazing] is not acceptable and if I find out, they’re going to get kicked off the team,” head football coach Michael Brown said. “You have to set the standards and hold kids to the standard.”

When asked if they would consider participating in any form of hazing, all athletes interviewed answered no. “We are all like a bunch of friends, it is not intimidating,” a freshman athlete* said. “I would be shocked and disappointed if any form of hazing happened in any sports program here at the Mill.”

“I wouldn’t haze, period, regardless of tradition or even if it was accepted,” a senior athlete said. “As a teammate, I want everyone to be at their peak and would only do things to encourage and uplift my teammates.”

“I think our kids here at Watkins Mill, being a very diverse group with many, many different life experiences, are generally more accepting and welcoming,” head lacrosse and football coach Maxwell Bero said. 

Hazing in any form can cause physical, emotional, and mental difficulties, as well as academic difficulties, for the person being hazed. For the one doing the hazing, it can cause academic and relationship difficulties, distorted self-image and perception of leadership.

“My advice for anyone worrying about not fitting in a team is: you’re doing the sport for you, not anyone else. Be proud and passionate to do your sport,” a sophomore athlete said. “Not everyone is a terrible person. You can work with good people. We are like family here at The Mill.”

*Student names were kept anonymous to allow athletes to speak freely about their experiences.

This story was originally published on The Current on December 10, 2018.