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Sam Culwell Says He Was Called A ‘Faggot’ By Someone From Iron Dukes’ Bench During Game

By Rich Thomaselli
HVSR Staff

Rondout Valley High School baseball pitcher Sam Culwell alleges he was harassed over his sexual orientation by at least one player from Marlboro during a game on Wednesday.

Culwell, a senior who came out as bisexual last year, is one of the standout players on the Ganders who helped the team win the Section 9, Class B championship and reach the state Final Four two years ago.

In a Facebook post several hours after Wednesday’s game, Culwell wrote that he came on to pitch in the fifth inning with his team trailing 4-1, the eventual final score. In the sixth inning, Culwell said Rondout Valley coach Paul Bogart came out to the mound to talk to him.

“At this point I had already struck out one batter and as my coach comes up to talk to me all I hear from the opposing dugout is ‘tell him he’s a failure and a faggot,’ ” Culwell wrote. “It took all of my composure to not break down on the spot.”

Culwell could not be reached for further comment. Rondout Valley School District Superintendent Joseph Morgan did not return requests for comment, nor did the respective athletic directors, Jonnah O’Donnell of Marlboro and Hans Sebald at Rondout, both of whom are believed to be at a monthly meeting of Mid-Hudson Athletic League ADs.

However, Marlboro Central School District Superintendent Michael Brooks sent HVSR the following statement.

“Hate of any kind is unacceptable, immoral and goes against all that we as a District believe, live and teach.
“We have been made aware of a serious allegation made against an individual on our Varsity Baseball team. It is alleged that inflammatory and derogatory name-calling related to an opposing player’s sexuality was used during a recent game.
“We have already begun an internal DASA (Dignity for All Students Act) investigation into the alleged incident. If the investigation warrants, there will be immediate and appropriate consequences.
“In addition, our Athletic Director has reached out to the opposing team’s coaching staff and players and is in the process of setting up a meeting to discuss the alleged incident. We are confident that this meeting will be beneficial and productive.
“Beyond this, we are very disturbed that this type of language and behavior still exists in today’s society. These behaviors, whether exhibited by adults or children, are without any foundation and strike against the District’s main mission; to help children excel in life.
“As a society, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard and be better than expressing hate. Acceptance of differences today is more necessary than it ever has been. Marlboro denounces hate, supports diversity and loves its children. We expect our community, our staff and our students to do the same.”

Marlboro baseball coach John Morrissey did not return an email requesting comment, but Rondout coach Paul Bogart told HVSR he was only aware of the alleged incident after the fact.

“I didn’t personally hear it while I was on my way to the mound, but when he came off the field he was distraught. He was ready to yell something across the field and I stopped him,” Bogart said. “I had no idea until after the game; one of the other kids told me what happened.”

Bogart said that he messaged his athletic director and, he presumes, an internal investigation will begin. Bogart said he’s not even sure if administrators from Marlboro know yet.

“I sent (Sebald) an email and he’s going to get in touch with Marlboro’s AD to see where this is going,” Bogart said. “You know, it’s unfortunate this had to happen. Sam is a great kid. For him to have to go through this is unfortunate. No kid should have to go through this. For us, as a team, we all know about his sexuality and to us Sam is just one of the guys who loves the game of baseball. He’s my only captain this year. That says everything about him.”

Bogart said he has no reason to believe Culwell isn’t being truthful.

“Why would a kid who struggles with this already bring even more attention to it?” Bogart said.

Indeed, in his Facebook post – which as of 10 a.m. Thursday morning had 115 comments, 211 shares and 280 reactions in 12 hours – Culwell wrote that when he came out as bisexual last year, the decision came with its own set of struggles in such a small school as Rondout.

“Luckily enough, I have helped to change my friend’s and my school’s views on sexuality and sports…. that is to say there’s no reason to discriminate against an athlete for this reason, and I want to be judged based on my abilities, sportsmanship, and effort,” he wrote. “I am disappointed, disgusted, and hurt by the treatment that I have received by Marlboro Central Schools Athletes and coaches. There is no room for hate, especially in a high school baseball game. We are all there for the same reason. Our love of baseball. And shame on your program for going out of their way to try and ruin what I love so much. All I have to say is Marlboro Central School District Take notes from my school. We have the ability to change, accept and embrace those who are different.”

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