MAYS LANDING — A black Absegami rower said Wednesday she wants a face-to-face apology from two white Mainland Regional High School crew members she says used racial slurs against her at Sunday’s Atlantic County Championships at Lake Lenape.
Myasia Joga, 16, a junior, and her mother, Uly’es Joga, told The Press of Atlantic City they tried to address the situation immediately after Joga — the only black girl on the bus — got off Sunday, hoping to get a face-to-face apology. But they did not get an apology that day.
“At that time I just wanted my daughter to feel comfortable. It could have possibly been settled there, but we waited an hour and a half for them to come, and they never came,” Uly’es Joga said.
Mainland Superintendent Mark Marrone said when the school learned of the incident, there was an investigation and the students involved were disciplined. The names of the students and the discipline were not released.
“On behalf of the Mainland Regional High School, and especially the High School’s crew program, we would like to publicly apologize for the unacceptable comments made by two of our student athletes to an Absegami High School crew team member during an event this weekend,” Marrone said in a statement to The Press.
Myasia Joga said the incident began when she hurried with her Absegami High School girls crew teammates to catch the jitney back to the other side of Lake Lenape after finishing their race.
When the jitney got too crowded, Myasia said she decided to wait for the next jitney without her fellow Absegami rowers.
“They thought that I was on the jitney, but I wasn’t,” Myasia said. “I waited for the last one to arrive. I got on there into the front seat in the front row and then the driver drove by and stopped, and that’s when the Mainland crew got on and crowded the bus, so I was like cornered in the front row.”
Joga said she “was harassed” by two white Mainland Regional High School rowers during the five-minute ride from one side of the lake to the other. During the ride, Joga said the Mainland team members referred to her as Rosa Parks, a black woman in the 1950s who refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama.
“I started to feel uncomfortable and abused. I was trying to endure it,” Joga said.
Mainland boys crew coach Eric Somershoe could not be reached for comment.
Myasia’s coach, Brad Young, said he heard the incident took place while the shuttle took the rowers to an awards ceremony after the races.
“I don’t believe she’d lie about something like that,” Young said.
Greater Egg Harbor Regional Superintendent John Keenan said in a statement he was displeased about the alleged incident.
“We are disappointed that young adults choose to use racial slurs in any form and at any time. We appreciate Mainland Regional High School’s swift and thorough investigation of this incident as well as their strong stand consistent with our league’s zero-tolerance policies,” Keenan said.
Staff Writer Lauren Carroll contributed to this report.