Many wouldn't dare question picking up a friend from a party when they had one too many drinks to drive home. However, if you are high school volleyball player Erin Cox, that noble gesture will cost you the team's captaincy and earn you a five-game suspension.
ESPN's Brendan Hall reports the North Andover (Mass.) High School senior was served with the severe punishment for being at a party where police were called and underage drinking was found. The school has a zero-tolerance policy.
However, she was only at the party two weeks ago because she was there simply to pick up her friend who was too drunk to drive.
Here is the ESPN report from Prim Siripipat:
The Boston Herald's Margery Eagen has a full report on the odd situation when a school punished an athlete for seemingly doing absolutely the right thing.
The 17-year-old had just finished work and decided to meet friends at a local yogurt shop. Eagen writes that it is here that Cox got a call from a friend who had too much to drink and requested a ride.
The former captain of the school's volleyball team finally arrived at around the same time as police officers. Reportedly 12 teenagers were arrested for underage drinking and another 15 were told they would soon get a court summons for their part in the festivities.
Cox was one of those who received a summons.
The odd part in all this is Boxford police officer Brian Neeley reported that Cox was not intoxicated, and he proclaimed as much in a written statement.
World of Volley provides this image via Twitter:
The school has an explanation. Apparently, they would rather punish all to send a message. At least, that's what we gather from their attorney's statement.
Geoffrey Bok represented North Andover in the lawsuit put forth by Cox's mother, Eleanor. (Eagen reports Eleanor's lawsuit to have the punishment rescinded went "nowhere").
"The school is really trying to take a very serious and principled stand regarding alcohol," said Bok about a young altruist getting a firm slap on the wrist for her efforts. "And we all get that. Teen drinking is a serious problem."
Cox relayed to Eagen that she would do the same all over again, despite her peculiar punishment. Here is what she had to say to the Herald's reporter:
But I wasn’t drinking. And I felt like going to get her was the right thing to do. Saving her from getting in the car when she was intoxicated and hurt herself or getting in the car with someone else who was drinking. I’d give her a ride home.
Going to get her friend was indeed the right thing to do.
We understand the school has a job to do to prevent underage drinking, but it's rather apparent they botched a teachable moment.
It's unfortunate, because they could have instead trumpeted a young athlete who illustrated maturity, compassion and precaution.
Cox's sister, Emily, has started a support campaign:
She may not have the title, but Cox most definitely proved she knows what it means to be a captain.
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