The Sardis secondary senior boys soccer team was alive and kicking Tuesday afternoon despite local media reports the team had disbanded after 10 team members were suspended for marijuana use during a tournament.
The triple-A Falcons trounced Fraser Heights 4-1 on home turf in their first league game of the season, with Grade 10 midfielder Cam Marshall delivering a hat trick and Grade 12 striker Brandon Wallace chipping in a single marker.
"I think it just shows how strong our program still is," Falcons head coach Shaun Calver told the Times. "We could have just chose to fold up like the other newspaper article said or we could keep going, and we chose to keep going."
Ten members of the team were suspended last Tuesday after Sardis administrators were notified the group smelled of marijuana at a tournament in Surrey two weeks ago.
After admitting to smoking pot at the event, the players were kicked off the team and out of the school for the rest of the semester.
Their parents have complained the punishment is too harsh and said the district should re-evaluate its regulations for dealing with such incidents.
One parent at Tuesday's game sympathized.
"I think it a was a little harsh for them to all get expelled like that," said the man, who didn't want his name used.
But the school has a zero-tolerance policy towards drugs and alcohol, he said, and he remembers that being made clear to his son last year.
"I don't know about this year," he said, "but they voiced it last year before a tournament: If there's anything like that goes on, it's zero tolerance. You guys will get booted."
That zero-tolerance message was reiterated at an assembly on the first day of school by Sardis principal Diego Testa, according to superintendent Evelyn Novak.
"When the [suspended] students were asked, 'Did you know about the consequences?' they all said, 'Yes.'" Despite what Novak calls "serious behaviour" on the part of the students, however, she said suspending students is a difficult decision.
"We recognize the impact of students having to leave their school," she said.
She also said it might be time to take another look at the district's regulations around drugs and alcohol.
"We recognize that this regulation was developed in 2010; perhaps it is time to review it and for our principals and vice-principals at least to have a conversation. Does it still fit for us?" The Sardis soccer team, meanwhile, has reinforced its decimated roster from a large pool of almost 40 players who came to this year's tryouts.
"We've asked a couple more players to come back," Calver said. "We have a big enough pool of players that we can still have a team."
Besides Marshall there are now four other Grade 10 players on the squad and even one Grade 9 player, Malcolm Stafford, from Mt. Slesse.
The Falcons' next game is away against Abbotsford Collegiate Thursday. Sardis returns to Chilliwack next Thursday to face cross-town rivals CSS at CSS. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m.
. For more information about schedules and results, visit www.fraservalleysoccer.webs. com.
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