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UPDATED: Moses Brown Soccer Coach Says He Will Kneel During National Anthem

Sunday, October 01, 2017


Eric Aaronian, Boy's Soccer Coach at Moses Brown, PHOTO: Facebook

Moses Brown Boy's Varsity Soccer Coach Eric Aaronian announced that he will kneel during the national anthem at today's game versus Westerly High School, in an email sent to parents on Friday. 

Aaronian is also the chair of the Science Department Chair at the prep school located on Providence's East Side, where tuition for the day school is $35,555 for grades 9-12. 

The head of the RI Interscholastic Sports League Thomas Mezzanotte said that during the national anthem players and coaches are expected "to properly show respect during the playing of the National Anthem is to stand, remove your hat and place your hand over your heart."

"Much like other state high school associations we do not/have not released a statement relative to our position on what is occurring with the playing of the National Anthem.  However, when asked we share the following:
It is the sincere desire of the RIIL that all participants at an education based event demonstrate proper respect and attention during the presentation of the National Anthem while respecting the rights of individual freedoms of expressions," said Mezzanotte in an email to GoLocal on Saturday.

Aaronian is the latest to join the controversy that swept the sports and political world last weekend.

President Donald Trump criticized players who protested by kneeling during the national anthem and players in the NFL responded. Some players knelt and some teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers refused to go on the field during the anthem.

Read Aaronian's email below.

Hello parents,

Your son may have already told you, but I wanted to let you know that after much thought and deliberation, I will kneel during the national anthem tomorrow at Westerly, and any time the anthem is played before a game this season. 

Ever since Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem a year ago in response to racial injustice in this country, I have been moved to be a stronger ally to those who are targets of injustice.  At the Patriots game last Sunday, I was saddened to hear boos when many of the players knelt during the anthem.  While I know that President Trump has muddied the waters with why some NFL players are protesting, I feel an urge to kneel during the anthem as a protest against racial injustice.  I spoke with the team on Tuesday and again today about last weekend’s events—something that I know that many history and English classes discussed—and told them I was thinking about it and made clear my reasons. 

The response was positive and I was sure to be clear that this is something I felt I had to do and there was no expectation for them to do the same.  I told them that I support any decision they make—kneeling or not--and there were other ways of showing support (placing a hand on the shoulder of someone kneeling, for example) if they wanted.  I want to be clear again that this is not a team-mandated protest and it I am not protesting the president.  I told them at practice today that if they would like to take a knee, it should be cleared by you first.  Rachel Moulton and Jeff Maidment support me and the team with whatever individual decisions are made.

Thank you for your support and all you do.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.



Eric Aaronian

Science Department Chair

Biology, AP Biology, Ornithology

Head Coach, Boys Varsity Soccer

Moses Brown School

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was originally published 9/30/17 1:20 PM


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