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Schools proactive in addressing fan behavior

At the NBL basketball playoff game Tuesday night between the girls of Santa Rosa and Maria Carrillo, three school administrators from Santa Rosa, two from Maria Carrillo and an uniformed city police officer were present.

Usually at a girls basketball game, according to Santa Rosa assistant principal Alan Nealley, one, no more than two administrators are in attendance to create an impression of watchfulness, an image of security.

On two gym walls at Santa Rosa were posted two large posters with the same wording: "Spectator Expectations." These posters were mounted just for this game. Among the expectations listed were two of striking clarity: "Be A Fan, Not A Fanatic ... Refrain From Taunting, Booing, Heckling And The Use Of Inappropriate Language."

Maria Carrillo vs. Santa Rosa

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The increased security presence and the two posters were the result of an ugly incident that happened a little more than two weeks ago. A man lost his cool in the heat of the moment, acted like a rock head, threw a bag of ice at a teenage girl basketball player. Now the people who run Santa Rosa High School were forced to expand their list of possible troublemakers.

Since the Ice Bag Incident of January 28th, which involved both schools, Nealley has met with the parents, relatives and fans of the Panther players to discuss proper behavior. Nealley recited to them "The Spectator's Code" as defined in the North Coast Section handbook.

"We always have spoken to our students about their behavior at games," Nealley said. "Now we have something else to consider. As an administration this is something we have never done before."

That "something' is dealing with adults, Nealley repeating and emphasizing to them what the school administrators have been preaching for years to the school's students. Nealley said it became apparent this was necessary after Carrillo's and Santa Rosa's game Jan. 28th. In the game's last seconds, a collision under the basket between Santa Rosa's Maddie Taylor and Carrillo's Mikaela Francis resulted in Taylor hitting the floor. A man in the stands picked up an ice bag and hurled it at Francis, hitting her in the head. Stands emptied. Tempers were elevated. A brawl, in the offing, was averted.

Santa Rosa officials launched their investigation and within days the man was told he was prohibited from attending any Santa Rosa athletic events the rest of the school year. The Francis family declined to press charges. When Nealley met afterward with Santa Rosa parents about exhibiting proper behavior, he made a telling point beyond the recitation of "The Spectator's Code."

"They sit directly across from the Santa Rosa bench," Nealley said. "I said that if they act poorly, that sets a bad example because the kids can see it. The kids are watching them. That hit home (with the parents)."

Santa Rosa's reaction to the incident is very similar to the schools in the Empire. School officials became proactive.


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