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)

As the parent of an LCHS varsity soccer player, I was dismayed and surprised by the way in which my son, his coach and his teammates were characterized last week in Joe Puglia's column (“Losing the game, even in victory,” Jan. 31). By omitting key pieces of information, Puglia maligned the character of our sons and our dedicated and talented coach.

Here is what actually happened: A Temple City High player committed a serious foul against an LCHS player that could have resulted in a career-ending injury. The referee recognized it as such and gave the offending Temple City player a red card, sending him immediately off the field. This player continued to taunt our team as he left the field.

When the game ended shortly thereafter, because of the obvious tension still on the field on both sides, our coach was concerned about everyone's safety and told the boys to go to the bench to avoid potential conflict. He, the assistant coach and four captains/players did proceed for the customary postgame hand shake with TCHS. The referees understood and did not dispute this decision. Our LCHS school principal was also there, and the administrators who were later involved as a result of Puglia's irresponsible column have confirmed the account herein and expressed their support for the coach. This was not a case of poor sportsmanship, but a prudent decision by a coach to prevent further hostility. Regarding the player who “stormed off the field” at a prior game, disciplinary action was in fact applied by the coach.

Puglia appears to believe that he has a higher message to deliver, and that his mission justifies whatever harm to others may result from the tales he twists to make his convoluted point. Further, that verdict is based on exactly one game that he attended, but of which he appears to have missed much. I respectfully request that Puglia or other commentators ensure they have all the facts before impugning the integrity and character of our hard-working athletes/sons and coaches.

Renée LaBran
La Cañada Flintridge