The sign stands tall at the Moffat County High School Bulldog Proving Grounds.

Photo by Andy Bockelman

The sign stands tall at the Moffat County High School Bulldog Proving Grounds.

Moffat County High School football team under investigation for hazing incident

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— The Craig Police Department and the Evanston Police Department in Wyoming are investigating an alleged hazing incident that occurred at the Moffat County High School football team’s annual football camp June 18 to 20 in Evanston.

According to two parents of the students who allegedly were hazed, upperclassmen reportedly targeted freshmen with harassment and physical assault.

Michele Dugan, whose freshman son attended the football camp, said the incident was more than typical hazing and more than just roughhousing.

“It was a nightmare. They lived in terror for two nights,” she said. “When it got dark, they lived in horror. Terror. It was bad.”

Dugan’s son said freshmen were pelted with urine-filled balloons.

“He said they filled water balloons with pee, dish soap and sugar,” she said. “Dish soap to mask the pee smell and the sugar so that it would stick to them.”

The students were practicing football for 10 hours per day and then sleeping in the wrestling room at Evanston High School, she said. But she said her son and his freshmen peers got little sleep the entire trip.

“So they bash them with (hard) pillows and come up behind them and pin them down. My son said that two of them would hold him down,” Dugan said. “One would hold his hands, one would hold his legs and they would just constantly bash his head. He said his head kept hitting the ground and he had terrible headaches.”

Two coaches slept in the same room as the students, Dugan said. But her son said they did little to stop some of the alleged abuse.

Out of sight of the coaches, the abuse was even worse, Dugan said.

My son "wanted to take a shower because they worked 10 hours in the sun and they were hot. So, he went in the shower and that’s when it got really weird,” she said.

Nancy Gatlin, a mother of another freshman football player, said the showers were a place of fear for the freshmen.

“He said it was beyond normal horseplay,” Gatlin said, “He said, ‘I went into the locker room to take a shower, and I turned right around. I just decided I’m not going to take a shower while I’m here.’”

When they came back to Craig, Dugan said the freshmen initially were tight-lipped. But eventually, Dugan’s son shared with her what happened on the trip.

“The ringleader, he took off his belt off his football pants, and he just lashed all the kids in the legs. My kid came home, and you could see the buckle on his thigh,” said Dugan, who took photos of his injury.

“This freshman class has been together since they were little guys, just learning how to walk and talk,” Dugan said. “The game of football means the world to them. They’ve played together, they went all through Doak Walker (youth football program) together, went all through middle school together and they couldn’t wait to be actual Bulldogs under the Friday night lights. These kids always have a football in their hand; it is their No. 1 sport. And their very first taste of Moffat County football, they’re let down by these upperclassmen.”

“I want all of these coaches held accountable,” Gatlin said.

Although no charges have been filed, an investigation is underway.

“We are working with several jurisdictions in Craig to include the school district (and) including the police department to pursue the investigation,” Evanston Police Department Lt. Bill Jeffers said. “We had a call in regards to an assault.”

Jeffers said Craig Police Department made the initial call to his department.

Moffat County School District Superintendent Brent Curtice said the district could not discuss the details.

“We are investigating, and because it’s a personnel matter with students and staff, we are unable to comment,” he said.

Dugan said the freshmen students need support.

“We need people to support these freshmen, because this whole entire community is involved, some way or another,” Dugan said. “I just hope it helps people down the road, and that these guys have to pay. These guys have to be held accountable for this. It’s the only reason I’m talking and doing this.”

The Craig Daily Press attempted to contact Kip Hafey, Moffat County High School head football coach, by telephone for comment, and he did not return the phone call.

Contact Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com.

Noelle Leavitt Riley contributed to this report. Contact her at 970-875-1790.

Comments

Tammy Showalter 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I am shocked yet not surprised that coaches allowed this to happen. I am one of MANY who wonder how these kids can be so good and then get to high school and become the biggest LOSERS when playing the same teams. I hope EVERY adult is held accountable in what I see as criminal by a person in a position of trust. Parents get sent to jail for having arguments in front of kids so these "teachers/coaches"???? should not be allowed to get away with it. I admire the courage of these parents to buck the good old boy rules and stand up for what is not only right, but against the law. And for anyone who chooses to respond to my opinion with sissy or toughen up, I pity you and your limited mentality in advance. Where has respect gone in this world?

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John St Pierre 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Not only the coaches but the schoold administrators and the board who hired them and allowed this mentality....
unfortunately the taxpayers of MOffat county are going to ened up paying for this from the lawsuits sure to come......

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