At around 10 p.m. on Wednesday night, Skyline football coach Mat Taylor laid in bed half asleep when his phone went off. It was one of Taylor’s players, who texted Taylor and told him to please call.
It was right around then that most of Skyline’s students, teachers and administrators started hearing about someone making an online threat to shoot Skyline students. As administrators and authorities looked into the matter, Skyline cancelled school on Thursday while neighboring Eastside Catholic had school on Thursday but cancelled it on Friday.
Taylor spent the day at home, trying to keep in touch with his assistants and players – all of whom remained in the dark as to what was happening. Here’s what the Times wrote about the incident on Thursday:
According to screenshot pictures circulated on Twitter and Facebook, a threat apparently made by a Skyline High School student said, “I am going to open fire on the people in the commons in the morning until I am either taken down by our school’s police officer, or until I run out of mags.” A picture of the gun, which the writer described as his father’s Erma sub-machine gun, was posted next to the threat.
The threat said the primary shooting targets would be “jocks” and people who “use their wealth and social status to act superior to others.” The writer expected to die while carrying out the shooting.
That, of course, hit home for Skyline’s players. “I had a lot of football players texting me very concerned and some kids very scared,” Taylor said.
Skyline couldn’t practice or gather as a team. Taylor said he couldn’t go to school to grab video equipment needed to scout on Thursday night. The best he could do was keep in touch with some of his players on the phone.
“I’ve texted with a couple kids and called a couple kids,” he said. “But that’s been really hard not to have a team meeting and bring the kids into an auditorium and talk about what’s going on. That’s been the part that’s been strange about the whole thing because you’re used to when you have adversity in your program you can bring everybody together and talk about it. And we haven’t been able to do that.”
Taylor said the first time he’ll be able to talk with his team about the situation is before they board their bus to head to Roosevelt for their game on Friday. Skyline will have a late start on Friday.
Eastside Catholic coach Jeremy Thielbahr learned about the threat on the way to school Thursday morning and then spent most of the day in meetings. Eastside Catholic cancelled all home events and outdoor practices Thursday but did play away games.
Thielbahr said his team did a walk through in the gym, and the Crusaders will practice in the gym again on Friday, the day their game was originally scheduled. Eastside Catholic will now play Bainbridge on Saturday at home at 7 p.m.
Both Skyline and Eastside Catholic are undefeated this season.
“I think you can rally around anything,” Thielbahr said. “We talk about mental toughness every single day and about overcoming adversity and focusing on us and what we can control. This was an event we couldn’t control, and I think our leadership and team chemistry will be able to handle this bump.”