By Sam Stack and the Blueprint News Board
// An Acalanes High School sophomore is facing felony assault and battery charges after allegedly attacking an opponent in a water polo match, breaking his nose.
Charges were filed by the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office after determining that the underwater blow to the boy’s face, which was captured on video and handed over to police, was meaningful and deemed criminal behavior.
The alleged incident took place September 19th in a match between Acalanes High School and Bellarmine College Preparatory of San Jose in a tournament at Las Lomas High School in Walnut Creek.
Both players were playing the two-meter position at the time, a position that tends to be very physical.
“During the game I didn’t see anything. The only thing we saw was they stopped play and the Bellarmine boy got out of the water with a bloody nose. We didn’t see anything while the game was going on. He was never ejected or anything from the game,” JV boys’ water polo Russ Stryker said. “No kid deserves a broken nose, we’re sorry it happened.”
The student was suspended from school for one day and suspended from the sport for 18 days after the incident.
“We felt we issued appropriate discipline,” Associate Superintendent of Administrative Services of the Acalanes Union High School District Amy McNamara said. “We put the incident behind us and are moving forward.”
It is uncommon for an incident of sports violence to be taken to court. Most occurrences of violence in sports, from football to golf, are left on the field.
“In my 11 years in high school education, I have never seen something like this happen.” McNamara said.
One of the most infamous cases of sports violence occurred in 1977 when basketball player Kermit Washington punched opposing player Rudy Tomjanovich in the head and nearly killed Tomjanovich. The incident ultimately ended Washington’s career, however no charges were filed by Tomjanovich.
The alleged attack in the pool was reported to the Walnut Creek Police Department, which proceeded to open an investigation. The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office reviewed the case and decided to file felony assault and battery charges earlier this month.
“It is most unfortunate the District Attorney is involved in this situation,” Principal Allison Silvestri said.
The case is currently pending in county juvenile court.