For the Woodward sisters, being the only Black girls on the field is nothing new. However, when they played a rival high school in their Utah district, they never expected the student fans to spew racial slurs.
Emmie and Darcy were adopted at different times by their parents Mark and Kate Woodward. While the girls may often be the only people of color in a space, they say they’ve also felt welcomed and embraced by other students at Sky View High School. It wasn’t until they had a game against Alta High School that they were the target of racism, reported Good4Utah.
"I didn’t know what to do. I was so shocked. I was so confused," Emmie Woodward told Good4Utah.
On Tuesday evening, Emmie and Darcy began to hear offensive language come from Alta High School’s student section of the stadium.
"It was probably 10 minutes into the first half when I heard a guy say, 'Black lives don't matter,'" said Emmie. "I was so hurt because I never thought people would say something like that to me."
Darcy also became the target of vicious verbal attacks.
"One person said, 'Hey, number 20. I hope you’re embarrassed.' I heard another one of them say, 'Nice shot, n****,'" said Darcy.
Although both girls brought the harassment to the attention of a referee and staff members, no action was taken to quell the attacks.
This led their parents Mark and Kate to reach out to Canyons School District for answers.
"There are two aspects to this whole thing. One is with the students were doing. But the second is what the adults were NOT doing," said Kate. "This is bullying. This is abuse and parents need to step up and teach their kids that this is not acceptable in a high school situation or a sports situation."
Jeff Haney with Canyons School District said administrators immediately launched an investigation upon learning about the allegations.
"Canyons District has a very strong anti-discrimination, harassment, bullying policy. We do not tolerate acts of discrimination, harassment, or bullying on any Canyon District campus," said Haney. "We want to make sure that any student that comes to Canyons School District, whether they're part of one of our schools or part of an athletic team from another school, that they feel welcome."
Mark said Alta High School's principal has contacted the family and expressed serious concern about the incident.
"Any verified acts of discrimination or harassment or bullying, there will be discipline to the full extent under policy," said Haney. "We have also started a plan to how we will address this within the Alta High community. It's important for us to send the message loud and clear that all students are welcome."
The Woodwards would also like to emphasize the incident had nothing to do with members of the Alta High School soccer team. In fact, the team captain called the family to apologize about what happened at their field.
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