Coach Alex Harrison

La Cañada High School's soccer head coach Alex Harrison during home game against South Pasadena High School. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer / January 23, 2013)

I am a player on the La Cañada varsity soccer team. I am writing this letter in defense of my teammates and my coach. After reading Joe Puglia's column, I was very frustrated, as my team's behavior was generalized as “the antithesis of virtue” for an event that was not accurately described. The game against Temple City did not involve merely a “rough play,” but a blatant attack on our best player in an attempt to break his leg, which resulted in a red card and a two-game suspension. Moreover, this attack was committed when Temple City already had its back against the wall and had nothing to lose. Puglia depicted Temple City as innocent, being only a recipient of our “reprehensible conduct.”

In addition, he claimed, “The LCHS soccer team sat on their bench and ignored the pleasantries and sportsmanship of their opponents.” The players only did this because the coach explicitly told them to, and his command was not without reason. He had the foresight to realize that there could be conflict with another interaction between the teams, so he took the initiative to prevent this by keeping his team out of the handshake. In addition, he did not fail to ignore the “pleasantries of sportsmanship” as he sent three captains and the goalkeeper out with the coaches to shake hands. His actions are commendable, as he avoided further confrontation while at the same time accommodating the postgame tradition of a handshake.

Puglia asks, “what are we teaching our children?” I'll respond that he taught me what it is like to be falsely accused and convicted without a trial. If he had investigated further into our team, he would have realized who we are and what we are trying to accomplish. With the guidance of our dedicated coach, we have been successful through teamwork and passion for the sport. I am proud to be a part of our team, representing our school and city. Puglia's inaccurate commentary has unfairly tainted our team and diminished our accomplishments.

Austin Gartside
La Cañada Flintridge