The Student News Site of Conestoga High School



PIAA probation: ’Stoga needs to do better

Jessica Li / The SPOKE

By Maya Shah, Co-T/E Life Editor

As a school that consistently ranks among the top five public high schools in Pennsylvania on platforms such as Niche and U.S. News, Conestoga is used to achieving excellence. Whether in academics, arts or athletics, there are always a plethora of resources and opportunities available to ’Stoga students. That is, until there aren’t.

Following the boys’ varsity soccer team’s victory at the 2023 State Championship in November, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) placed Conestoga on probation for the following three athletic seasons. Athletic director Kevin Pechin cites both fan and team behavior at the game as the driving factor in the PIAA decision. Further misconduct may result in Conestoga’s disqualification from competing in postseason district and state competitions.

This is not the first time our school has seen a rowdy game, but it will hopefully be the last. This punishment comes at the end of a long run of unsportsmanlike conduct from our fans and players alike, through which students and administrators have gotten much too comfortable with their reputation for misconduct. Though harsh and perhaps unfair to members of teams completely independent of the incident, the probation is a rude awakening to the fact that it took PIAA interference to discipline ’Stoga’s own student body.

The most alarming part is the reputation our school is cultivating. As a co-captain of the girls’ tennis team, I saw firsthand the high-stakes environment a big game creates. Regardless of the pressure, tennis and numerous other teams at Conestoga have long balanced excellence in both performance and sportsmanship. Now, the actions of a minority of fans and athletes may undermine our ability to compete at the highest levels.

Some may argue that this burden falls solely on the students, and the administration bears no responsibility in this case, namely because the fans acted directly against administrative guidelines. While this may seem true, it ignores the fact that fan misconduct at games has been a long-standing trend prior to the 2023 boys soccer state championship.

Administrators had the opportunity to find a solution to the growing toxic fan culture, yet failed to do so. At the end of the day, both students and administrators alike are culpable for the reputation our school presents, meaning we are equally deserving of the consequences.

The best thing to do is take this as a lesson: Do better. Our administrators should not be afraid to more harshly punish individual students for their actions at school-sponsored sporting events. Simultaneously, as fans, your actions at this point can only harm the people playing on the very field beside which you are cheering. So, on behalf of all student athletes, next time you’re all bundled up to show your support, show it in a way that makes Conestoga proud.

Maya Shah can be reached at [email protected].

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Maya Shah, Co-T/E Life Editor
Maya Shah is a senior and the Co-T/E Life Editor of The Spoke. She covers community-oriented topics and specializes in both editorial writing and photography. As Co-T/E Life Editor, she works closely with staff reporters to develop their writing and designs pages 4-7 of all print issues. Outside of the newsroom, she is a captain of the girls' tennis team and leads Conestoga's Speech and Debate and Mock Trial clubs.