MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Some Roseville High School basketball players are firing back after their team was accused of racist behavior.
WCCO shared the story Thursday of a black sophomore basketball player who received a piece of a weave as a gag gift at an end of a season banquet.
It’s tradition for the team to give out gag gifts along with awards.
Her mother told WCCO that the experience was humiliating for her family.
On Friday, a group of players on the team spoke with WCCO-TV, saying that the gift was not intended to offend. They wanted to come forward to defend their coach and their team.
“To throw the word racist on the program, the coaches, the athletes, I think…that is just far-fetched,” said Jolisa Ross, who played on the team for two years.
“Maybe insensitive? Absolutely,” she added. “Things like that happen all of the time with high school girls.”
The girls denied that no one apologized to their teammate at the banquet.
Forward Jayda Johnston said she ran after the girl as she left the banquet early with her mom.
“I said, ‘Are you OK? We’re so sorry, we didn’t mean to hurt you,’” Johnston said.
The players said they regret giving out the gift, because they didn’t know the girl would be offended.
And they’re worried their coach, who they say didn’t know about the hair piece, could lose his job.
“Nothing was meant for her to be hurt,” said sophomore Tianna Iserman.
WCCO reached out to Roseville Area Schools. They said the investigation into the incident is still on-going.
LaToya Turk, the mother of the girl who received the gag gift, said Friday that her daughter told teammates in the past that she was sensitive about her hair after she lost an extension during a game.
The teammates claimed they did not know that.