Robinson Secondary School swimming coach Clayton Joyner and assistant Kevin Nolan were fired last Thursday following a locker room incident at a Dec. 3 swim meet at Cub Run RECenter in Chantilly.
According to the parent of a swimmer on the team who requested anonymity, members of the boys’ swim and dive team were questioned regarding the incident by Robinson principal Dan Meier, athletic director Marty Riddle and a student resource officer last week. At a meeting for parents and swimmers last Thursday night, Meier said he had received a report of a hazing incident in the boys’ showers following Robinson’s meet against Westfield.
Joyner and Nolan were fired prior to the meeting Thursday.
“What was described to us was definitely horsing around which the administration interpreted to be hazing,” said the parent. “We were told a county employee at Cub Run overheard a swimmer say ‘bring me a freshman’ and that’s why it was perceived to be hazing. We’re not sure if the kids clearly understood what constitutes hazing and where you draw the line – when something goes from horsing around to hazing.”
Fairfax County Public Schools Student Activities and Athletics Director Bill Curran confirmed the firings but declined to comment on the circumstances surrounding them.
“Since it deals with personnel matters and student disciplinary measures, I can’t really address the issue,” Curran said.
Riddle did not immediately return a voicemail requesting comment. Meier referred a request for comment to Paul Regnier, a spokesman for Fairfax County Public Schools.
“I can’t even acknowledge what this situation is since it involves a personnel matter and student discipline,” Regnier said. “I can say that there is a new swim coach.”
According to a parent who attended the meeting, Meier described a scene of swimmers emptying soap dispensers on bathroom floors to create a “slip and slide.” Meier also relayed an account of swimmers lathering up their hands with soap and slapping freshman team members.
Curran also confirmed that an e-mailed “statement of expectations regarding coaches’ responsibilities when they’re at pools” was sent to Fairfax County athletic directors late last week to be forwarded to swim coaches. Curran said the e-mail was “standard operating procedure” at the beginning of each winter swimming season and was intended to “remind coaches of what their responsibilities are when they’re outside of an FCPS facility.”
Phil Caslavka, who began the season as an assistant coach at Oakton, was hired to replace Joyner over the weekend. Caslavka, 23, was a long-term substitute teacher at Robinson and last week was also hired as a full-time government teacher.
Joyner was in his second season as coach. He led the Rams girls to a second consecutive Virginia AAA state championship last winter.
“I was completely surprised by the decision,” Joyner said. “The program was headed in the right direction with everyone working hard toward another state championship. They’re a really good group of kids, and I’m very proud of the swimmers and divers regardless of what happens.
“I’ve received overwhelming support from the team members and their parents and I’m very grateful for that.”
A conduct list labeled “Rules & Lettering Requirements” on the Robinson swim team Web site states “Any form of hazing (including shaving heads) will result in immediate dismissal from the swim/dive team.”
“There was a lot of emotion and it was definitely an awkward situation,” the parent said. “I suspect Meier felt he had no other choice, but the parents were looking for a lot more details to explain firing the coaches.”
The Robinson boys’ team had won seven consecutive Virginia AAA state championships before that streak was snapped by Concorde District rivals Oakton last winter. The night after the firings and parents meeting, the Rams boys and girls suffered a lopsided defeat to the Cougars.