DES MOINES, Iowa — Des Moines Hoover Huskies head football coach Theo Evans says a road game defeat to Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson High School quickly turned dangerous and divisive for his student-athletes during the handshake line.
“It was a shock for me,” said Evans who graduated from Hoover in 2011. He added, “Kind of a punch in the face hearing it said to my guys.”
Evans says Jefferson’s student section was not just satisfied with their first win of the season so they stormed the field and wanted the night to continue by race-baiting his athletes. “Things I heard were ‘kill yourself, hang yourself.’ Definitely the ‘N’ word usage all over the place,” Evans said.
The Public Address announcer seemed to agree with coach Evans and tried to tame the students. He can be overheard yelling at the students and saying “Have some class,” and “students leave the field now.”
Evans said the taunts continued and around 60 Jefferson students were waiting for them near the bus in the parking lot.
“The second group was more aggressive and posturing to fight. Really pushing for our guys to react back at them so there would be a fight,” said Evans.
In a letter obtained by WHO 13 News, Hoover principal Qynne Kelly writes to Jefferson principal Michael Naughten informing him she has requested the Iowa High School Athletics Association to look into the matter and that Jefferson officials “Provide an explanation of what accountability there will be for Friday night’s incident and steps to prevent such degrading action towards visiting high school students in the future.”
Iowa Department of Education enrollment data from the 2021-22 school year shows Jefferson’s student body is 71% white, 23% Hispanic and 4% Black. At Hoover, Principal Kelly says more than three out of every four students are students of color. Principal Kelly said, “We celebrate the diversity of our community each and every day. A racist assault against one of our students is against us all.”
Coach Evans sees it as a teaching moment. He said, “We wanted to coach our guys to be great fathers, great husbands, great community members and give back to the northwest side of Des Moines someday.”
For a team that’s trying to change the culture of Hoover football in more ways than in the win column, coach Evans sees it as a moment of strength. “Our decisions impact your life positively and negatively and I think our guys did a great job taking the hard road and not responding to their actions.”
As of Monday evening officials at CB Thomas Jefferson High School could not be reached for comment. Evans also says the Jefferson athletes and coaching staff had nothing to do with the problems Friday night in Council Bluffs.