by Emily Schwartz, Sports Editor
photo by Hedi Skali
On March 27, about a dozen kids were observed playing soccer by a South neighbor who went to investigate, having heard unusually loud music from Winkler Stadium and knowing school events were canceled.
The neighbor notified girls soccer coach Doug McCarthy, who had been working closely with them on the Help Light the Way project to install permanent lights on the stadium field. The Newton Parks and Recreation Department (Parks and Rec.) was also notified.
The next day, Parks and Rec informed McCarthy that there had been a break-in at the press box above the stadium field. They asked him to go over and secure the press box, because he had a key.
McCarthy found the press box doors open and unlocked. The windows were also open.
Athletic director Patricia Gonzalez said that the intruders may have entered through a loose window, as the box was secured.
“We were surprised because we know the press box was locked,” she said. “It was locked after the last game in the fall and we don’t use it at all in the winter.”
Gonzalez said she suspects that the break-in was committed by individuals playing sports on the field who wanted access to the speaker system inside the press box.
Gonzalez said that the school left no cables inside the box. Fortunately, no major damage was discovered, both Gonzalez and McCarthy said.
While McCarthy was locking up, a Parks and Rec. representative arrived, he said.
“Parks and Rec. did get a call,” City of Newton’s Director of Community Communications Ellen Ishkanian confirmed, who spoke on behalf of Parks and Rec. “They went over and made sure that the press box was secured by the soccer coach [McCarthy].”
Because no one observed the break-in, however, there is no way to definitively tie it to the noise complaint, McCarthy said. The break-in conceivably could have happened at any point between the end of the fall season and March 28 when it was reported.
A second incident occurred a couple weeks later when engineering teacher, boys soccer coach and boys lacrosse coach Matt Briggs drove by South and saw a group of kids playing on the field. He observed that the concessions stand had been broken into.
Parks and Rec. went to the stadium to investigate and secure the concessions stand, after notifying Newton’s Public Buildings Department and Newton Public Schools, Ishkanian confirmed. They discovered the ticket box had also been broken into, and they secured it as well.
Gonzalez said this series of incidents is not the first time stadium facilities have been broken into.
“We stopped a long time ago storing food there,” she said.
McCarthy said that respectful student use of South’s fields is typically allowed, but expressed concern that the group of kids playing soccer were not abiding by social distancing guidelines.
“This was an unfortunate incident,” McCarthy said. “Hopefully people will learn from it.”