PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Spectators watching the Buccaneers team compete Sunday during a Rhode Island Preteen Football League game may have noticed a bizarre play on the field.
Spotted among the 13- and 14-year-old players was a 19-year-old man who suited up to compete against players six years his junior. The man is reportedly the older brother of one of the team members.
“I’m embarrassed, I feel disrespected,” said Alexandra Diaz, the team’s founder. “I feel there are no words that can explain how I feel.”
Diaz said she was extremely upset the Buccaneers’ reputation has been ruined by the coach’s mistake.
“He wasn’t thinking, and that’s all that he could tell me, was that he was not thinking,” she said.
According to Diaz, the coach responsible has been fired and the varsity team has been stripped of the remainder of its season.
Eyewitness News spoke by phone to men who identified themselves as the 19-year-old player and coach but refused to give their names.
The coach apologized for what he described as letting his ego get in the way, saying he saw the older teen suited up to play and sent him out to the field. Both the coach and the 19-year-old also said they are remorseful.
“We all failed. If one goes down, we all fail as a community,” Diaz said. “And that’s what I’m teaching them, so we all lose our season for this.”
Diaz also cited concerns about safety of the players going up against the man as a key reason she took action.