Letters to the Editor: Mater Dei should know: Toxic masculinity and hazing can destroy men for life

Mater Dei head coach Bruce Rollinson points his finger while standing next to players
Mater Dei head coach Bruce Rollinson reacts after his football team won the CIF Southern Championship on Nov. 26.
(Kyusung Gong / For The Times)

To the editor: My heart breaks for the parents of the Mater Dei student and football player who sustained a traumatic brain injury due to what they say was a hazing incident, as well as the young man who will have to live forever with the effects of having to prove his masculinity.

As a therapist to many men who struggle with the effects of such masculine tests, I am privy to the ways that this type of masculinity — in recent years popularized as “toxic” — has continued to haunt the psyches of men. This is the root of many traumatic incidents that can lead to addiction and mental illness later in life.

As a culture, we need to look further into the ways that we have all contributed teaching boys that they must get hurt and harm others in order to prove that they are men. Institutions such as Mater Dei and the Catholic Diocese of Orange need to be called to account for reinforcing a “boys will be boys” culture.


Tragically, it’s unlikely that they will be the ones to institute change, and young men will continue to pay the price.

Teresa Nelson, Long Beach

The writer is a licensed clinical social worker.


To the editor: The Times has published several articles about the lawsuit detailing a horrendous fight between Mater Dei football players that seemed to be part of hazing activities and was initially covered up by the school.

None of these articles addresses an important, underlying factor: Football is a violent sport and fosters a culture that rewards violence.

The solution is not better supervision in the locker room. The solution is to eliminate football as a high school sport.


Victoria I. Paterno, Los Angeles


To the editor: Mater Dei head football coach Bruce Rollinson’s alleged statement, “If I had a hundred dollars for every time these kids played Bodies or Slappies, I’d be a millionaire,” is an outright admission of his inaction in curtailing the culture of hazing.

If my math is correct, this quote suggests that these violent hazing incidents have happened more than 10,000 times on his watch.

Coaches that I had laid out in no uncertain terms on Day One the sorts of behaviors that would not be tolerated. Rollinson allegedly condoning these locker-room fights has now led to a student with traumatic injuries.

He, the school and the Diocese of Orange should be held accountable.

Dave Dolnick, Thousand Oaks


To the editor: Sadly, there is nothing regal or noble about Mater Dei’s tacit code of silence.

The hazing tragedy is criminal and needs to be addressed and rectified immediately. The school’s failure to do so will only further tarnish its mission to empower its students and community to assume and accept personal responsibility with respect to God’s creation and service to others.


Laura Monahan, Fountain Valley