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UPDATE: Coach, Athletes Speak Out After 'Bernie' Dance Controversy

The Perry Hall High boys soccer coach said he disagreed with but respected the principal's decision to cancel the team's season.

UPDATE (Nov. 5, 5 p.m.)—The Perry Hall Gators beat James Hubert Blake High School 2-1 on Saturday. Perry Hall will now advance to the Class 4A North region final against Westminster on Tuesday.

Find live game coverage and commentary in the article, Live: Perry Hall Beats Blake in Post-Bernie Playoff Game.

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UPDATE (Nov. 5, 1:30 p.m.)—Check out our live chat of the Perry Hall boys soccer post-Bernie dance playoff game against Blake.

Patch's Nick Dimarco will provide live updates, photos and video from the sidelines. Readers can join the conversation on Twitter or directly in the article. Game starts at 2 p.m.

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UPDATE (Nov. 4, 12:16 p.m.)—Perry Hall High School Principal George Roberts announced Friday during a news conference that the decision to end the boys varsity soccer season early had been reversed.

The Class 4A North region semifinal game between Perry Hall and Blake High School will be played at 2 p.m. Saturday at Blake in Montgomery County.

Check Patch for video and updates, in the article, .

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UPDATE (Nov. 3, 7 p.m.)—An anxious crowd of students and parents gathered around Pete Eibner, head coach of the boys varsity soccer team, Thursday afternoon in the school's parking lot.

Follow Perry Hall Patch on Facebook and Twitter.

Eibner said he wanted to ensure his players were behaving "like gentlemen" after school principal George Roberts canceled the rest of the team's season, a disciplinary action against players who performed the so-called Bernie dance after a playoff victory against on Tuesday. Had Perry Hall's soccer season not been halted, the team would have continued in the playoffs.

Earlier Thursday morning, students held a demonstration across the street from the school protesting the season's cancellation. Police responded but there were no arrests, said.

Read more about the protest in the article, .

Eibner, a first-year coach who works as a personal trainer, said the dance was miscontrued by parents of Dulaney players and the was a misunderstanding.

Perry Hall senior Ethan Muller scored the game's winning goal in the last two minutes of the playoff game. Afterward, players gathered around Muller, who was standing near Dulaney fans, and performed the dance, Eibner said.

"We feel really remorseful about it," said Muller. "It was a heat of the moment thing ... If the game ended on the other side of the field we would have done the same thing. We didn't purposefully go out to taunt them."

"We've been working together since we were freshmen and to end it like this is just sad," he said.

Eibner said the allegations against the boys were inaccurate.

"I think it's unfair from the standpoint that the kids were accused of doing something malicious, intentional, lewd, vulgar and unsportsmanlike," he said. "They didn't have malice in their hearts as the celebrated. They were celebrating with themselves."

The so-called Bernie dance is an updated reference to the 1989 comedy Weekend at Bernie's in which the title character, who is dead, has his actions directed by others which results in an awkward limp animation. Some Dulaney fans felt the Perry Hall players' actions were disrespectful.

Read more about the response from Dulaney parents in the article,.

The decision to cancel the season was announced Wednesday at 3 p.m., by  Roberts and athletic director Bob Hruz, Roberts said.

"Children should celebrate by cheering each other, giving high fives, hugs and pats on the back. But in my view, a choreographed, celebratory dance is not the way to celebrate victory," Roberts told Patch in an interview Thursday morning.

While Eibner disagreed with the decision to end the players' season early, he said he supported the principal's decision and respected his authority.

"I am not here today to undermine the principal," he said.

Eibner encouraged students to be respectful of the principal and refrain from doing the Bernie dance on school property.

Senior Chris White said he felt nothing but sadness after hearing about the season's cancellation.

"We've got 10 seniors on the team this year and soccer is our lives," White said. "We just want to be heard. We want our season back. We want to play (Friday)."

Senior Ryan Carter said he still didn't understand what was inappropriate about the dance.

"I've never seen a team, rec-level, club-level, high school, professional, where teams don't celebrate when they win a quarter-final regional game," Carter said. "That's insane to just stand there and not do anything."

A small group of parents also gathered outside the school on Thursday to support the team.

Vinnie Magliano, whose son Vinnie is a senior, said he was outraged when he found out the season was canceled. 

"The dance could have been construed as wrong. I understand that, but to end the season? These kids worked hard for that," Magliano said.

Carrie Ayd, the mother of a sophomore lacrosse player, described the Dulaney parents who complained about the dance as "sore losers."

"If the principal isn't willing to stand up for his own students, then the parents have to," Ayd said. "If the tables were turned and this were [my son's] lacrosse team, I would hope other parents would come out and support the players, whatever sport, because it's wrong."

Diana McNamee Palewicz November 05, 2011 at 02:43 PM
Wow, isn't this over yet?? It has been made clear by all parties involved here that it is more than 1 particular group at fault: 1. The PH boys shouldn't have done the dance, but in their defense, they are depending on the guidance of the teachers/mentors and with being allowed to do this in the past without any consequence, there would be no reason for them to think they are not allowed to do it now. 2. Mr. Roberts made a hasty decision without looking at all of the details first, but I applaud him for reversing his decision and giving the boys a proper and more educational punishment. 3. Coach Tana should never have sent an email based on hearse from his spouse and parents, but I applaud him for admitting that he didn't see it himself and he was caught up in the hype from the parents and that he didn't it find it to be offensive once he watched it. 4. The Dulaney parents, with the exception of the few who actually took time to remove themselves from the hype of other parents and form their own opinions and find out what the dance was, should be ashamed of themselves for being so sour. Everyone is saying "you need to win with grace" well, you also need to "lose with grace". 5. DHS athletes actually have been taunting PH teams since this, no one that has been bashing PH has touched on this when it is brought up, hypocritical much? And I know first hand sour behavior from that camp is the norm.
Emily Kimball November 05, 2011 at 05:58 PM
UPDATE (Nov. 5, 1:30 p.m.)—Check out our live chat of the Perry Hall boys soccer post-Bernie dance playoff game against Blake. Patch's Nick Dimarco will provide live updates, photos and video from the sidelines. Readers can join the conversation on Twitter or directly in the article. Game starts at 2 p.m. - http://patch.com/A-n2QY
Emily Kimball November 05, 2011 at 09:27 PM
UPDATE (Nov. 5, 5 p.m.)—The Perry Hall Gators beat James Hubert Blake High School 2-0 on Saturday. Perry Hall will now advance to the Class 4A North region final against Westminster on Tuesday. Find live game coverage and commentary in the article, Live: Perry Hall Beats Blake in Post-Bernie Playoff Game -- http://patch.com/A-n2QY
Emily Kimball November 08, 2011 at 11:37 PM
UPDATE (Nov. 8, 6:30 p.m.)—Check out our live chat of the soccer Perry Hall boys soccer post-Bernie dance playoff game against Westminster. Patch's Nick Dimarco will provide live updates, photos and video from the sidelines. Readers can join the conversation on Twitter or directly in the article - http://patch.com/A-n6WM
Emily Kimball November 12, 2011 at 03:48 PM
UPDATE (Nov. 12)—We're going to be live chatting (http://patch.com/A-nDCN) the Gators next run in the state semifinals. The boys are entering their third post-Bernie match against Walter Johnson High School tonight at 7:30 p.m. Help spread the word about our live coverage on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/PerryHallPatch) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/PerryHallPatch). Patch's Nick DiMarco will provide live updates, photos and video from the sidelines. Get involved in the conversation using Twitter hashtags or by commenting directly in the live chat on the article. See you there (http://patch.com/A-nDCN).

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