West High football program, rocked by hazing scandal, returns to field

The month-long pause didn’t just impact the football team. Band members are happy to be able to play again.
Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 9:29 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The Western Hills football team and school band are back playing for the first time since a hazing scandal put the program on pause in late August.

“It feels like the first game all over again,” said Stevonne Southerland, mother of one of the players on the team.

It’s been a tough stretch for Southerland’s son and the other players since the team’s first game on Aug. 10.

Ten days later, a hazing incident sparked a police investigation. No charges were filed, but the district fired head coach Armand Tatum.

Parents like Southerland are now trying to move forward through the uncertainty in a positive way.

Sotherland says ever since the program resumed activities, her son has come home “happy” and “energetic.”

The pause affected more than just the football team. The band was also impacted because they couldn’t play at games that weren’t happening.

“They’ve really missed it,” said Sherry Newell Smith, mother of a senior student in the band.

Smith says having the games back means a lot to the band members.

“It makes a big difference for the seniors,” she said. “All the kids in general, but really the seniors. It’s opportunities they can’t get again.

Southerland says the team has learned a hard lesson from what happened.

“He told me the team has come together,” she said of her son.

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