Men’s soccer team initiation practices called into question

Megan Robinson

News and Web Editor

Freshmen members of the men’s soccer team complete a process they refer to as “initiation” within their first month of the season. Details about the initiation were disclosed to the Free Press by an anonymous source who was so shocked when she was asked to participate that she hoped the request was a joke.

In order to be initiated the freshmen members of the team had to complete a series of tasks. Zach LaVeck, a freshmen member of the men’s soccer team, said that to be “initiated” into the team means that they receive more responsibilities. However, James Hill and Zach Nibbelink, other freshman soccer players, said the freshmen players’ roles on the team do not change after initiation takes place.

LaVeck said that all the tasks were optional but strongly encouraged. However, Nibbelink went on to say that if a freshmen player told an upperclassmen teammate they were uncomfortable with the task, they were not excused from participating in the process, but rather given an alternative task to perform.

According to LaVeck after they completed the initiation process, they were congratulated by their upperclassmen teammates. Then they met individually with the team captains to be congratulated personally by the most senior members of the team.

Hill said the freshmen players were asked to interview about 50 women for a survey about the men’s soccer players. Hill said they specifically had to ask girls from both women’s sports teams and Phi Sigma Sigma. However, Sarah Byron, the president of Phi Sigma Sigma said “I have absolutely no idea what… survey they are referencing. I do not recall answering any sexual questions about any soccer players.”

Nibbelink said they were given a sheet with pictures of all the players on the team and would show the pictures to the girls while asking them the questions they were given. Nibbelink said an example of some of the questions they asked were “Which player would you rather be stuck on a dessert island with?” However, the anonymous source said she was shown the survey and all of the questions were sexual. She said some of the questions they had to ask were “Who is most likely to be a virgin? Who would you sleep with? Who would have a Prince Albert penis piercing?”

The survey isn’t the only activity the freshmen players are asked to participate in. Nibbelink said they were asked to do a scavenger hunt. He said they were asked to collect 15 turf beads, 26 blades of grass, and other activities. LaVeck said that the tasks were not complicated, but it was difficult to complete them in the limited amount of time they were given to complete the tasks.

However, the anonymous source submitted a transcript between herself and a freshman soccer player in which he told her about some other specifics tasks of the scavenger hunt. The source said the player told her they were given grocery lists of random of items to buy. The player said the items totaled $50 of his own money.

The anonymous source also said that she was personally approached to help a player complete a task for the scavenger hunt. He asked the source if she would allow someone to take a picture of her holding his penis. Shocked, the anonymous source thought the player was joking, but after he reiterated that his request was serious she responded no. Later, another soccer player told her that the seniors compiled the lists of who to contact for that task and that the freshmen players had found another girl to take the picture with.

LaVeck, Nibbelink, and Hill denied that they were ever asked to do anything sexual as part of their initiation process.

While it is unclear what, if any, role alcohol played in the men’s soccer initiation process, the submitted transcript makes it appear as though it was used. The freshman soccer player said initiation “sucked” and “I was wasted out of my mind by the time I got back.” LaVeck, Hill, and Nibbelink all also denied that they were asked to complete any tasks involving alcohol during their initiation process.

The source said what bothered her was her inability to report the issue. “I know its hazing, I know it was sexual harassment, but at the same time I feel like I can’t report it because I didn’t actually do anything, I was just asked,” said the source. She continued, “It hurts to be a part of that and know that nothing is going to happen from it.”

In fact, according the Maryland State’s Hazing Law, the act she was asked to perform was hazing. According to the law “‘Haze’ means doing any act…for the purpose of initiation into a student organization of a school, college, or university.” The law goes on to state that “Hazing activities are generally considered to be: physically abusive, hazardous and/or sexually violating.”

According to Christine Workman, the Director of the Student Engagement Office, the hazing that disputably took place on the men’s soccer team not only violated Maryland State Law, but also the college policy. Workman said the college uses the Maryland Hazing Law as the college policy in regards to hazing, and it applies to any organization on campus.

The head coach of the men’s soccer team said this was the first time he had ever heard of any hazing taking place on the team. He said he was going to look into the allegations. He also said the players sign a paper regarding hazing at the beginning of the season, but that he does not directly deal with hazing education.

The men’s soccer assistant coach, Paul Seegren and the team captains Adam Dolbey, David Cross, and Timothy Wineke, did not respond to a request for comment.

However, despite these disputed tasks, LaVeck, Nibbelink, and Hill said they all will play on the team next year. All of the boys said they found more than just field mates on the soccer team, they found friendships. Hill said “we hang out all the time.” All the boys agreed that the boys on the soccer team were “tight.”

Hill and Nibbelink said they look forward to being upperclassmen on the team. LaVeck added that he had a lot of fun this past season and was glad to be a part of the team.