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Softball Coach Suspends Players for Drinking

April 25, 1997

HARRISONBURG, Va. (AP) _ The coach of the Eastern Mennonite softball team suspended more than half of her players for drinking beer, forfeiting the team’s spot in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference tournament.

Six of the team’s 11 players drank beer at the party hosted by one of the team’s co-captains, coach Ruth-Anne Wideman said Thursday.

``One of the team rules was no alcohol or rumor of alcohol consumption throughout the season,″ Wideman said. ``Due to the breaking of that particular rule, I could not field a team for the ODAC championship.″

According to Kathy Palmer, who hosted the party at her house, it started as a non-alcoholic barbecue for the team but expanded to as many as 80 people as others showed up. Palmer, 22, said it was the late arrivals who brought the beer. She said some of the players drinking were not 21.

``It wasn’t like they were intoxicated. It was more like a social thing. ... That’s what we get. We messed up,″ Palmer said.

Athletic director Lester Zook said the suspensions will not affect the players’ academic standing. Zook said the school, owned by the Mennonite church, forbids the ``misuse″ of alcohol. He said each coach sets the rules for their team, and Wideman is the only coach to ban alcohol.

Fourth-seeded Eastern Mennonite (11-13, 4-6 ODAC) forfeited its spot in this weekend’s ODAC tournament to fifth-seeded Roanoke College.

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