Wilson County Schools reinstated a veteran soccer coach Tuesday after clearing her in an investigation into claims that she encouraged hazing of one of her players during a recent practice.
Toni Varacchi, the athletic director, girls soccer coach and a PE teacher at Fike High School, missed five games during a suspension spanning more than two weeks, according to The Wilson Times.
Ken and Kelly Barnes claimed their daughter Parker, a freshman goalkeeper at Fike, was the victim of a March 26 exercise in which they said Varacchi encouraged hazing. They alleged Varacchi pitted their daughter against an older, larger teammate in a drill intended “to toughen you up,” despite Varacchi telling her she was at a size disadvantage.
In a statement issued on Varacchi’s behalf on Wednesday, Nash County attorney Ernie Murray said the allegations were “totally untrue” and “disturbing in that they questioned (Varacchi’s) fitness both as a coach and as a human being.”
Parker Barnes' parents called for Varacchi to be terminated from her role at the school.
“People were retaliating via social media and coming out to support a coach, telling us we were blowing this out of proportion,” Kelly Barnes said. “It’s mind blowing to support a coach when this was the directive from her.”
The school system suspended Varacchi with pay on April 9.
Varacchi did not offer comment throughout her suspension at the request of the the school system, which caused others to challenge the allegations.
“This prompted friends and supporters to speak out for Coach V, and a war of words was waged around her in which Coach did not participate because the investigation was still in process,” Murray wrote in the statement. “The factual investigation is now completed, and the School System’s action speaks louder than any response Coach V could have issued.”
Dozens of people, including current players, went to the Wilson County Board of Education’s April 16 meeting to voice their support for Varacchi, The Wilson Times reported.
Ken Barnes on Wednesday said his daughter – who also ran cross country and played volleyball in the fall – wouldn’t play soccer for Varacchi again. The parents are assessing options and considering relocating their daughter to another school, Barnes said.