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Torrington girls soccer makes right call in forfeiting contest after Derby refuses to do the right thing.

POSTED October 25, 2019
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON: Sometimes what’s best for a student’s future is a bit of tough medicine.

In the case of a Derby girls soccer player though, that doesn’t seem to be the case and as a result, the Torrington girls’ soccer team will not be heading down to the Valley to take on the other Raiders of the Naugatuck Valley League later today.

That’s right, the Torrington team will forfeit their next to the last game of the year as a protest over the lack of accountability they have seen from their Naugatuck Valley League brethren from the south.

Head coach Mario Longobucco, with the full backing of the Torrington Administration, will not take his team to a game that they should win (they won the first meeting 1-0) and to tell you the truth, it’s the absolute right move.

The story is known far and wide around the NVL. Near the end of their 1-0 win, a fight broke out, at first between one Derby player and Torrington’s Allison Dudek before a second Derby player grabbed the Dudek by the hair and proceeded to throw punches to the head of the then defenseless sophomore.

I don’t talk out of school on any of this, it happened almost directly in front of me as I stood on the sidelines covering the contest.

I saw what I saw and called it like I saw it.

As I said in the article that I wrote that night, if the fight between the first two players had been it, it wouldn’t have even been a blip on the radar screen.

Give them both yellow or even red cards, either would have fit the incident.

It was the third player, the additional Derby player who made this as serious an incident as it was.

It was, plain and simple, an assault on an opposing player.

The game was called at that point, something else that didn’t seem fitting at the time but so be it.

It seemed like an easy call. Any player who did what the Derby player did, should no longer have the right to play high school soccer anymore.

What seems to have happened is nowhere close to that.

Seems there may have been a two-day suspension (not verified) and then re-instatement to the team.

Not sure what the lesson is here.

Look, I’m not condemning the entire Derby soccer team, the school or any of their programs but just what are we teaching here?

By not holding the player accountable for her actions, what message is being sent?

They’re not doing her any favors.

Longobucco is understandably upset.

“Speaking only for myself and not for anyone else in the Torrington School system,” Longobucco stressed. “I am deeply disappointed in Derby’s inability or unwillingness to deal with this matter in a way that is appropriate considering the injuries sustained by our girl. Allie hasn’t been to school for a full day since September 25th.”

Her head coach continued.

“The two DAY suspension handed out by Derby hardly seems fair or appropriate,” Longobucco said. “Their Athletic Director and Principal should be embarrassed for allowing their player the privilege of playing on their team when her actions on the field and on social media directly contradict the Derby Public Schools Code of Conduct which apparently is used for scrap paper. Our athletes at THS are held to a much higher standard and I can say with 100 percent certainty that if the roles were reversed that our administration would have handled this much differently and much more swiftly.”

The support from all corners of the Torrington leadership has been rock solid.

Taking a stand by marking this as a forfeit is important to all from the Raiders perspective. It happened, it hasn’t been handled correctly by one side and that needs to be noted.

Protecting our young athletes is job number one.

“Myself and coach Tyler (his assistant) made a commitment to our young players and their parents that we would not put them in harms way by playing them against Derby a second time if they allowed the player in question to play.” Longobucco said. “No one loves the game or wants us to play more than I do, but because of Derby’s incompetence in handling the matter, we will not be playing today, or any other day as long as she is playing. We have to do what is best for the physical and mental wellbeing of our players regardless of the wins and losses.”

I spoke with Jill Bettua, the mother of Allison Dudek and he spoke of the pain and suffering her daughter has gone through, along with what her thoughts were, regarding the response from Derby.

“I felt so defeated when I woke up (Thursday),” Bettua said. “I was completely floored by the response that said the player was still allowed to participate after the incident. I’m a teacher here in Torrington and we are in the business of keeping students safe. They could not even tell me if any punishment was handed out,”

Bettua continued.

“My daughter has been suffering from the effects of that day every day. She is getting Ocular therapy her in Torrington and seeing specialists at the UConn Health Center.” Bettua said. “We are going for an MRI today (Thursday) because she is still getting bad headaches that have kept her from staying in school all day. She can’t enjoy tenth grade nor fly to Florida to see her dad because of her condition.”

This is just one of those times where the adults don’t get it right on so many levels.

It’s a teachable moment for certain and in the case of the Derby hierarchy, it appears they’re choosing to turn their backs on the entire thing, hoping it just goes away.

Well, unfortunately for Dudek, she wakes up every day with a painful reminder of what happened on the pitch that day and there is no timetable for when she will be fully recovered.

How does she get that time back, how does the memory of the assault go away?

So, it goes down as a loss for Torrington and a win for Derby but in the case of the Raiders from the north, a big win on principal.

Like I said back when the incident occurred.

We adults need to do better.  



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