High school lacrosse player says racial slur was hurled at her during Cherokee County game

CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. — A teenager from Gwinnett County is speaking out after she was called the “N-word” during her lacrosse game Wednesday night at Cherokee High School.

Aja Thomas, a goalie for Brookwood High School, said the incident happened during the second half of the game. A group of boys from the Cherokee lacrosse team were in the stands when the yelling started.

“I have been heckled before, but I’ve never been called slurs on the field.”

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Thomas expressed how angry she was at what they’d said to her.

“They said the N-word with the hard ‘r.’ I was angry, I was crying, I was going through every single emotion I could at the moment,” Thomas told Channel 2′s Justin Carter.

Thomas said she immediately told her coach, Dr. Dawn Thomas, who also happens to be her mom, and a teacher at Brookwood about the incident.

“I talked with the coach, I talked to the principal, I talked to the ref, and told them that it was clearly unacceptable,” Thomas said. “The refs asked them to be escorted out of the stadium.”

But coach Thomas said she was shocked at what school administrators did next.

“The principal said ‘I got ‘em, I got ‘em. They can sit with me. So, the refs were trying to do their duty; however, the principal stood in the way.”

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Channel 2 Action News got a statement from Cherokee High principal Rodney Larrotta, who said, in part, “the administration at CHS spent several hours interviewing coaches, players, other spectators and students who were present at the game; none reported hearing any racial slurs. At this time, none of the allegations have been substantiated.”

Alexis Scoggins said she was on the field when the slurs were yelled and she said the response was hurtful.

“Even with the overaggressive heckling, despite racial stuff being said, they should have been removed from the premises,” Scoggins said.

Thomas was not pleased with the way school administrators handled the situation.

“As administration when you don’t do anything, when you don’t punish people when they are wrong, you are letting everyone know you are above it all, Thomas said.

On late Thursday, Brookwood High School principal William Bo Ford Jr. released a statement following the incident:

“We feel the environment was hostile and believe racial slurs were used during the second half of the competition. It is extremely disappointing that someone would use racist language to attack a group of student athletes because of the color of their skin.”

Both schools said they are investigating and racist language is not tolerated.

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