Park demands action

Athletes await progress from New Prague before engaging in competition


Grace Stillman

During a hockey game against New Prague Feb. 15, members of the Park team were targets of racist comments from New Prague team members. New Prague school board has since concluded it’s investigations into multiple recent events of racism.

Tobias Khabie and Maren Wilsey

As the spring sports season kicks off, one school is noticeably missing from the schedule. According to Park athletic director Andy Ewald, Park has stated that until the safety of spectators can be guaranteed, Park will not compete against New Prague.

“We’ve communicated directly with New Prague that we’re not going to compete with them head-to-head until we’re comfortable and assured that our fans, our parents and most importantly, our students aren’t going to be victimized by racism,” Ewald said. “They have their work that they need to do — it’s not our job to do their heavy lifting for them.”

After several incidents involving the use of racial slurs, Park has decided to indefinitely halt individual competition with New Prague. One of the allegations, according to the Star Tribune, is that students made monkey noises toward Robbinsdale Cooper students, which New Prague officials have since denied. As teams look ahead to the newly altered seasons, softball captain and junior Kamryn Halley said she’d rather play one less game than make her team vulnerable to being targets of hate speech. 

“I’d much rather lose one game than put Park students and my own teammates at risk of being targeted by racist remarks,” Halley said. “It’s really not worth it to play one extra game.”

Senior Stanley Regguinti, one of the targets of the racist remarks, said he still hasn’t received any acknowledgement of the incident from New Prague. 

“I haven’t gotten an apology or anything. I’d like to hear one just to know that they’re trying to make it better,” Regguinti said. 

According to Ewald, New Prague has stated their intentions to begin reforming the behavior of spectators and prevent further incidents.

“I was at a meeting a couple of weeks ago with all the (athletic directors) in our conference and the New Prague (athletic director) listed off a bunch of strategies that they’re going to start doing,” said Ewald. “When they start doing them or how they implement them, I don’t know anything about that.”

New Prague superintendent Tim Dittberner said the district put together a three-part plan to address the incident and prevent future ones like it. The plan includes creating a task force of students, staff and parents to create a more inclusive community, providing more adequate resources, and working with leaders in athletics.

“The mission will (be to) assess our district needs and help provide an inclusive environment for all,” Dittberner said. “Whatever we have been doing obviously is not good enough. We can’t sit here and blame or make excuses — we simply have got to do better.”

In the midst of discussions on reform, another accusation of racism from New Prague students arose at the boys’ state hockey meet over the alleged use of white power hand gestures. Halley said this reaffirmed her support of Park’s choice to cancel individual competition with them. 

“The fact that they have been called out for it and continue to do it is just really disappointing,” Halley said. “(It) makes me feel even better about our decision to not play them because they’re clearly not changing.”

As the situation with New Prague progresses, Ewald said Park will continue to show zero tolerance toward hate speech of any kind, with no exceptions.

“My personal belief is there is not a gray area when it comes to something like this. When it’s any kind of hate speech — whether it’s around gender, sexuality, skin color, religion — there’s not a middle,” Ewald said. “There’s a lot of gray in the world, but with this there’s right and wrong with it.”

Halley said she wants New Prague to demonstrate significant efforts to change its culture before she feels comfortable playing its teams again.

“They need to really listen and actually do something about it, and make an effort to make change in their school,” Halley said. “One apology is not going to do it. They need to show their change through their actions.”