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Another hockey team’s playoff dreams ended by Harlem Shake suspensions, school AD put on leave in aftermath

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

While the Harlem Shake continues to take the internet by storm, it also continues to be the scourge of prep hockey programs’ postseason dreams. Less than a week after a slightly uncouth Harlem Shake video cost a suburban New York City program its spot in the playoffs due to a forced forfeiture, a Minnesota team suspended six of its key contributors on the eve of a state playoff matchup because of another Harlem Shake video.

The suburban Twin Cities squad lost the subsequent game, leading to a major inquisition by parents of players on the team, eventually leading to the school’s athletic director being placed on leave.

The entire sordid tale unfolded at Mound (Mn.) Westonka High, where six members of the boys hockey team produced a wild Harlem Shake video, which was subsequently uploaded on YouTube. Yet it wasn’t the boys’ participation in the video that earned the suspension. Rather, it was their recruitment of other teens to take place in the video, and filming it in the school’s lunchroom.

If that seems relatively straightforward, that’s because it is. Teens get their friends to make cameos in their videos all the time. Even more confusing is the fact that the teens were making the video after studying the Harlem Shake phenomenon in their film production class at Mound Westonka.

Mound Westonka principal Keith Randklev told USA Today that the teens were suspended because school policies were violated when the video was staged indoors, noting that the video, “got out of hand.” Some of the students were even issued $75 tickets by police for “riot-like behavior.”

Still, the decision to suspend six students that cost both they and their teammates a legitimate chance at a playoff run seemed extreme, as one of the students involved was quick to tell USA Today.

"[Another student] fell into me and I kind of pushed him back into his own place and then we both received tickets for disorderly conduct,” Mound Westonka senior Kyle Leumann told USA Today. “We were not given hardly any chance to give our side of the story."

That apparent lack of due process sparked fury from parents of the teens, who are now calling for the outright dismissal of the Mound Westonka administrators who were responsible for the suspensions … and in turn, a significant part of the subsequent 4-2 loss to underdog Blake (Mn.) High in the state playoffs.

One of those administrators, Mound Westonka athletic director Dion Koltes, was placed on leave after a contentious school board meeting, appeasing angst-filled parental calls but not entirely silencing them, as one parent made clear to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

“This is too little, too late,” said Michelle Brandstetter, whose 17-year-old son, Jack, was among the hockey players who missed the game that Mound Westonka lost to an underdog Blake squad. “They rushed to judgment. …

“The punishment doesn’t fit the crime. They rushed to judgment. There were no illegal actions that took place.”

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