The purpose of this column is to not condemn Central Catholic High School’s entire student body.
But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t shed some light on the deplorable behavior exhibited by several Raiders fans during a recent varsity boys basketball game at Central Valley High in Ceres.
Darryl Dickson, head coach of the Hawks, was targeted because of the color of his skin. Dickson is black.
“Let me talk to you in your own language,” one fan yelled. The offender proceeded to imitate a gorilla before being ejected from the gym.
“Heckling is pretty common along with boundaries,” Dickson said. “But I’ve never had anything like that done to me in all my years of coaching. Obviously, it’s not appropriate. It’s sad to see students doing that.”
Jeff Brown, Central Valley’s varsity boys and girls basketball announcer since 2006-07, couldn’t believe what he heard. He rightfully took offense.
“My daughter was sitting next to me at the table,” Brown stated. “We kept looking at each other in disbelief at some of the things that were being said by the kids. It was non-stop. I’ve been around sports a long time. I’ve never heard anything like that. The one student that got thrown out was the main offender. I never would have thought someone would have pulled out the race card. That’s just wrong.”
The culprit was seated with more than 20 other Central Catholic students behind the scorer’s table. Dickson warned the Raiders’ rowdy crowd multiple times before alerting officials in the fourth quarter. Central Catholic’s fans were relocated to another section of the gym after the incident.
“Once I heard that (gorilla) comment, I stopped the game and had one of my administrators remove the student,” Dickson said.
Central Catholic officials are conducting their own investigation.
“I don’t know what happened,” said Billy Hylla, the private school’s athletic director, who happens to be half-black himself. “We’re definitely looking into it and taking it serious. I’ve been here for the last three years and we haven’t had any of those issues on our campus. We take pride in the way our kids behave. I can’t imagine one of our kids making a statement like that. It will break my heart if it turns out to be true.”