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Freshman Football Team Meets With Administration Following Coach Pornography Allegations

Midmorning Friday, Principal John Dodig made a public announcement to the Staples staff and students expressing his concern over student conduct and opinions relating to the recent arrest of assistant freshmen football coach Michael Pickering, 40. Later in the day, the principal and others spoke with the freshmen football team.

Pickering allegedly shared with freshmen football players the password to an undisclosed pornographic website.

Dodig referred specifically to public forums on Facebook and Twitter, where football players and students supported the former coach but also occasionally targeted others, including the student who reported the coach’s actions.

“We want to turn this negative into a positive,” Dodig said. “My concern at the moment is that because of all the trash talk on various Facebook pages that are now becoming public on and will spread around the world in no time. Some of you, years from now, will find that these posts will come back to haunt you and could prevent you from getting the job you really want.”

In addition, Dodig called for a mandatory meeting directly after school today for the freshman football team. Also present were Athletic Director Marty Lisevick, Assistant Principal James Farnen, Staples Varsity Head Coach Marce Petroccio, Freshman Head Coach Peter Caligiure and the athletes.

During the meeting, Dodig said in an interview shortly after, he let the players know that it is okay to be feeling angry; however this anger should not be targeted at anyone but the coach who let them down. Otherwise, Dodig recalled, he said that the anger could eat away at the fiber of each player.

“Trash talking is not going to help,” Dodig said.

Dodig said he then reminded the students of all they had learned from Pickering as a coach. Finally, Dodig said he told the athletes he feels it is important that the athletes now focus on their love for football, to continue Staples’ tradition of success.

Petroccio and Farnen also spoke at the meeting.

According to Dodig, Petroccio told the team that it is time to move forward. Petroccio said this would be more important “than any win he could give to the school.”

In addition to Petroccio, Dodig says Farnen made sure to remind the students of the support system the administration has to offer for these athletes. Farnen specifically said that if any freshmen players feel under attack themselves, he’s available for support.

On Facebook and elsewhere, some older and former students have criticized the freshman class and players for their role in the coach’s dismissal.

Principal Dodig also said that a meeting will be held at 7:00 pm in the Staples Library Learning Commons for the parents of the freshmen football athletes.

To our readers: stay tuned to Inklings Online for more updates on this issue, including student reactions.


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