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The DeSoto County High girls soccer team was forced to forfeit a victory, and the school received a $1,000 fine after an assistant coach played in a junior varsity and varsity match against Lemon Bay High.
"I can't believe it happened," DeSoto County School District superintendent Dr. Karyn Gary said.
On Jan. 10, in matches against Lemon Bay High in Englewood, Bulldogs assistant coach Juany Gonzalez played for both the DeSoto junior varsity and varsity teams during the regular season finale for both.
Along with serving as an assistant coach, Gonzalez, a 2009 DeSoto graduate, works as a waitress at the Country Café in Arcadia and in customer service at Taqueria Gonzalez, according to her Facebook page.
Gonzalez and DeSoto girls head coach Narce Hinojos were fired after the incident.
Gary said she was notified of the situation during the late afternoon of Jan. 14, when some of the players informed DeSoto boys varsity soccer coach Tracy Hay of Gonzalez's actions. Hay, in turn, told Bulldogs director of athletics Jarrett Zolkos, who relayed the information to Gary.
Then, Gary investigated the allegations, conducted interviews with student/athletes on the soccer team, Hinojos, Hay and Zolkos.
"The students stepped up," Gary said.
When asked why the players did not immediately report the situation to school officials, Gary said, "The kids were a little afraid to tell on adults doing the wrong thing."
By Jan. 16, Hinojos and Gonzalez, who were not fulltime employees of the school, were dismissed and the incident was reported to the Florida High School Athletic Association.
"It's a bad situation," Gary said. "It was not good."
The FHSAA could have fined the school $2,500 per contest in which Gonzalez participated, a $5,000 total. Since the school self-reported the incident, the organization reduced the fine to $1,000. Also, the school received a reprimand, was placed on administrative probation for one calendar year starting Jan. 17 and forced to forfeit the 2-1 varsity non-district victory over the Manta Rays.
"To the best of my knowledge, it only occurred in the game against Lemon Bay," Gary said.
DeSoto plans to take in-house action following the incident.
"We're taking care of the matters internally," DeSoto principal Nelson Stephenson said.
That includes expanding the ethics policies that goes along with coaching sports teams in the form of mandatory meetings throughout the school year with all the coaches at the school.
The DeSoto girls soccer team (9-15) played in the Class 2A-Region 3 quarterfinal Thursday night on the road at Fort Myers Bishop Verot.