St. Louis Park, Robbinsdale say they won’t play New Prague after racist taunts

St. Louis Park and Robbinsdale school officials said their teams won’t play New Prague in athletic contests after their players faced racist taunts in recent games.

“I will not tolerate or allow our students to further experience any racism while participating in athletics against New Prague High School,” St. Louis Park Athletic Director Andrew Ewald wrote in a letter to Brad Skogerboe, his counterpart at New Prague.

Ewald said the decision to suspend contests against New Prague came after consulting several St. Louis Park “stakeholders and leaders, most importantly our students.” St. Louis Park officials will also remove the New Prague banner hanging in the high school gymnasium.

Ewald told Skogerboe that St. Louis Park will reconsider whether to play New Prague at the end of the 2022 season. Ewald said the racist taunting St. Louis Park hockey players experienced wasn’t an isolated incident, alluding to similar reports from other schools.

The same day as the boys ‘hockey incident, the Cooper High School girls’ basketball team reported racist taunting, including New Prague fans making animal noises, the New Prague Times reports.

That district has also canceled athletic contests with New Prague, which is about 45 miles southwest of Minneapolis.

Robbinsdale Superintendent David Engstrom said in a statement that the incident “caused trauma to the Cooper High School girls basketball team and the school community as a whole.”

“We are committed to protecting our students and staff, and will take a stance against racism no matter the cost, and as a result, Robbinsdale district schools, including Cooper High School, will not be competing in any athletic events hosted in New Prague for the foreseeable future, “he wrote.

Engstrom also said the Minnesota State High School League “has the responsibility of taking the experience of our students and coaching staff at New Prague High School seriously.”

The league did not return a request for comment Wednesday.

Ewald, the St. Louis Park athletic director, said in his letter that he’s previously had conversations with Skogerboe about racist conduct during contests with New Prague teams.

In his letter, Ewald recalled a conversation from when the New Prague Trojans were applying to be part of the Metro West Conference. At that time, Ewald said he told Skogerboe: “I will not stand for your community and students to have teachable moments at the expense of our students.”

New Prague Superintendent Tim Dittberner in a statement confirmed the incident at the hockey game occurred and said it was “dealt with immediately” but did not provide specifics.

“We sincerely apologize for this incident and make no excuses for the behavior. We are taking steps to work with our athletes, student body, staff and coaches so these types of incidents do not happen in the future,” Dittberner wrote.

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