by Tess Lukowiak
As a result of inappropriate fan behavior, the WHS administration has implemented new rules regarding fan attendance at hockey games.
The new provisions require all student attendees to give their full names and present identification upon entering the arena.
Students are not permitted to bring containers of any kind into the rink and must remain in the arena once they have entered. Any student wishing to leave the rink may not re-enter according to an announcement by Supervisor of Athletics Ms. Sandy Mamary.
Said Mamary, "At a lot of events, not just hockey, our student fans have been behaving inappropriately...and quite frankly it’s embarrassing to the school."
These changes follow two direct incidents at the Feb. 1 hockey game against Summit at Warinanco Park, one of which involved the assault of a student.
Senior Daniel Berke said, "I heard a commotion and I turned around to see a man, about 40 years old, repeatedly punch a student in the shoulder."
Senior Will Hogge added that the student was put into a headlock and unable to fight back. According to Hogge, the man was provoked by student fans who were chanting, "Go back to your side, faggot."
Union County Police Chief Daniel Vaniska denied that his officers observed any assault, though he said that he knew of allegations made by one student.However, Berke said, "The police came in and pulled the man away."
Allegedly there was another incident at the game involving a student in the parking lot. While the WHS administration has not openly addressed any incidents involving alcohol, Vaniska said, "There was an intoxicated student at the game that had to be taken care of."
An anonymous fan also said, "Maybe 50 percent of the kids are drinking or using smokeless tobacco."As a consequence to this behavior, no containers of any kind are permitted in the rink, according to Mamary.
According to Principal Mr. Peter Renwick certain students who were believed to have contributed to the inappropriate behavior and rowdiness of fans have been banned from attending games. "[The students] are aware of our disappointment," said Renwick.
Though attendance check-in and other changes are beneficial for disciplinary purposes, they may discourage student fans from coming to the games.Said Hogge, "[The new provisions] will ensure that no fans attend the games for the rest of the year, and it’s a real shame."
Head Varsity Hockey Coach Sean Cromarty said that having fewer fans at games affects the team. However Cromarty recognized that the school has to do what is best for the safety of the fans.
"I think the new provisions make it more difficult for kids to come to games, which hurts [us] in numbers here, but if it’s going to make the student body as a whole safer, then you have to be in line with what the athletic department wants to do," said Cromarty.
Because hockey is played off-campus, some have raised concerns about the way students represent the school.
"If [the changes don’t] correct the problem then we will take further measures.... We will do whatever needs to happen to make sure that WHS is well represented as it should be on all levels," said Renwick.
However, some fans think that the student population is misrepresented. Said Berke, "It’s unfortunate that all of [us] at the game are grouped into the same category of drunk and obnoxious because that’s not the case."
Said Renwick, "No matter if its the athlete on the field, a coach...or fans in the stands, everyone of those groups represents this high school and it’s my expectation that they will do so respectfully."