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Iowa high school looks to leave its conference after player receives racist jeers on road

  • September 15, 2020

Fueled by racist jeers directed at a Black baseball player and the offending school’s lack of what it deems a proper response and accountability, Charles City High School (Iowa) is preparing to leave the Northeast Iowa Conference and start its own new conference.

Charles City Superintendent Mike Fisher told the Des Moines Register that, after Waverly-Shell Rock fans taunted Charles City outfielder Jeremiah Chapman, who is Black, during a game in June, the school formed a task force of students, coaches, staff members, principals and alumni.

That task force’s job? To determine if the Comets should remain in the NEIC.

And during a school board meeting Monday night, that task force recommended Charles City leave the NEIC within the next two years.

“It was a spark, and it definitely weighted the conversation,” Fisher said of the incident involving Chapman, who was a member of the task force. “But that, in and of itself, would likely not be the only factor. It really just started the longer dialogue that this has been historical. This has been a continued issue.

“There was a consistent pattern with a partner school that was brought up.”

Outfielder Jeremiah Chapman runs for the ball during the Charles City vs. Vinton Shellsburg baseball game in Charles City on Monday, July 13, 2020. The Charles City Comets defeated Vinton Shellsburg 4-3.

Fisher said he has already reached out to at least 10 schools about joining their new conference once Charles City leaves the NEIC.

He said he’s received nearly unanimous support and plenty of interest.

“(We want to) invite schools with shared values that have a focus on character to join this new conference,” Fisher said. “We have talked to schools within the NEIC and outside the NEIC. Only one, a non-NEIC school, said it just wasn’t the right fit right now. Every other school was an enthusiastic yes or, ‘We’re very interested in continuing the conversation.’

“There is very much interest in possibly starting a new conference based on the whole concept of character.” 

During a June 27 game at Waverly-Shell Rock, Chapman heard racist jeers while playing in center field. He told the Register that Waverly-Shell Rock fans starting calling him “Colin,” which he guessed was a reference to Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback who first kneeled during the national anthem in 2016 as a form of protest.

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