Administrators investigating racist taunts at Oak Ridge title game

Saturday’s Division 1 CIF NorCal girls soccer championship had all the feels of an instant classic between Clovis’ Buchanan High School and El Dorado Hills host Oak Ridge until racist and derogatory animal noises were aimed from the Oak Ridge stands toward Hispanic and Black players from Buchanan.

As of Monday afternoon, the fan had not been identified.

“The Oak Ridge administration worked to identify the individual responsible for the racist sounds in the moment,”Oak Ridge Trojan Athletics released a news release. “However, due to the size of the crowd the individual could not be located at this time.”

Each team was ranked nationally in top 10 and played near perfect soccer through regulation and overtime. They then entered penalty kicks, which ended in a tie of 2-2.

Each team would attempt five penalty kicks in order to determine the winner.

Logan Nidy, a white man, was Buchanan’s first choice. As she took her shot, the crowd was quiet and remained silent until the ball reached the goal.

Hispanic Daisy Torres was next up for the Bears. When the referee signaled to her to shoot, fans once more went silent. Only one fan barked like a dog right before Torres missed the shot above the goalpost.

Ciara Wilson was a Black player who scored both Bears goals during regulation. She crossed the line to take third. To keep the game tied, the California State University, Fresno signee had to score. The crowd was quiet in anticipation as Wilson was allowed to shoot right before the referee. It was one of the best players and scorers in Wilson going against one of the best goaltenders, Oak Ridge’s Kate Plachy.

Fans stood still as Wilson started to run in for the penalty kick. When a spectator in Oak Ridge stood blared monkey sounds, everyone in the stadium heard it.

Wilson made the goal, then began running back to her teammates before turning around and talking to the referee. It was obvious that she was shaken by the noises. Wilson rejoined her teammates at the midfield.

Buchanan fans were furious, shouting at the Oak Ridge stands that were across the pitch, shouting things like “Have some class,” “Losers”  and “Kick them out.”

The head referee immediately gathered with the other officials, before bringing in Oak Ridge coaching staff, administration, as well as the California Interscholastic Federation administrator.

As they were talking, Plachy sprinted the 60 yards to console Wilson at midfield

A video taken by another local media outlet shows that at least one Oak Ridge fan continued to make monkey noises throughout the game. After the game was stopped for three minutes, Oak Ridge coaches and administrators signaled to the home crowd to stop making monkey noises. 

Oak Ridge head coach Rino Chimienti was yellow carded for the fan’s offensive taunt. 

“It was horrible!” Jasara Gillette Myles, Buchanan head coach, posted a tweet. “To have your player have racial monkey noises and gestures at her in the middle of the PK and nothing be done. The fan wasn’t identified and kicked out. The stands weren’t cleared. Nothing was done. Racism should not be tolerated but it was tonight.”

The Trojans won the game with their last PK kicks.

“The game was tied in PKs at the time of the incident,”Gillette-Myles made the following statement on Twitter. “It completely affected the outcome as my players were physically and emotionally distraught at the monkey noises and gestures and the lack of action.”

The Trojans team hugged Wilson after the game.

“This does not reflect the players on the Oak Ridge team because we feel they displayed good sportsmanship,” Gillette-Myles continued. “However, the officials who saw and heard blatant racism decided to not take a stand against it.”

Aaron Palm, Oak Ridge Principal, stated in a press release that he was present at the game. “This incident disgusts our learning community and embarrasses our entire school. There is no room for this type of individual behavior anywhere in our society.”

According to Serena Fuson (spokeswoman for El Dorado Union High school District), the school is investigating the incident using video and student interviews to identify who it was, she said.

“The school administration will take warranted actions to ensure this type of behavior is labeled as hate speech, which can never be explained away or tolerated,”In a news release, district officials said. “The school will take the full disciplinary action as allowable by education code.”

Oak Ridge students will engage in discussions in the classroom and have school-wide reflection opportunities.

The CIF could bring action against the school. CIF took the title of champion from a Southern California high school basketball squad after fans threw tortillas at its players, who were predominantly Hispanic.

“It is our understanding that Oak Ridge High School is investigating to determine which spectator engaged in the inappropriate behavior and will be in communication with the CIF,”Officials of the CIF make this observation in a statement.

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