Banned B.C. water polo rioter playing in U.S.
Published Tuesday, September 27, 2011 2:48PM PDT
The B.C. water polo player banned from playing the sport in Canada for two years because of his participation in the Stanley Cup riot is playing for a varsity team in the U.S.
In a decision issued Tuesday, a discipline panel from Water Polo Canada imposed a ban against 18-year-old Nathan Kotylak of Maple Ridge. The teen gained worldwide notoriety during the Stanley Cup riot for trying to light a police car on fire.
The panel described Kotylak's actions during the riot as "very serious" and concluded that video footage shared on YouTube violated its code of conduct and athlete agreement.
The decision said there was "evidence" that the teen was caught fanning the flames of a garbage bin fire before trying to set a piece of cloth on fire from the gas tank of a Vancouver Police Department squad car. He was also seen throwing a piece of burning paper into the same cruiser, the report read.
The ban prevents Kotylak from representing Canada on any national team until June 2013. He is ineligible to receive any Sport Canada funding for two years.
But the ban is unlikely to hurt the teen because he is already playing with a team in California, CTV News has learned.
Kotylak is listed on the men's water polo team roster at West Valley College in Saratoga.
Head Coach Bruce Watson told ctvbc.ca that staff is aware of the freshman's participation in the riot.
"It was a consideration but after meeting with him and talking to him and his parents, we thought it was only right to give someone a second chance," he said.
Watson describes Kotylak as a "tremendous kid and a great teammate" who is doing really well in his studies.
He said the student has taken an unfair amount of criticism for something that he did in the "heat of the moment."
"My guess is he got caught up in the moment being rambunctious and young but that hasn't been reflected by anything that's gone on here."
Ed Haas of the U.S. Collegiate Water Polo Association said there are no rules against banned Canadian players playing in American schools.
In fact, Haas said there may be an advantage for Canadians playing in the U.S. because the school teams often receive better funding and many players receive full academic scholarships.
Kotylak, who has 10 days to appeal the decision of Water Polo Canada, has also been ordered to repay any athlete assistance funding he received after June 16, the day of the riot.
He has not been criminally charged.
The teen turned himself in to police after pictures surfaced of him participating in the riot.
He also waved his anonymity under youth protection rules, stepping forward and issuing a public apology where he called the actions "dumb." He apologized to his friends, family and classmates, saying he was ready to take full responsibility.
"There is no excuse for my behaviour. It does not reflect the values that my family and community raised me to live by," he wrote. "In a moment, I acted in a way that is an embarrassment to my family, my school, my community, the Vancouver Canucks and the City of Vancouver. I am truly ashamed of what I did."
The Kotylak family was forced to leave their home in the days following the riot after their address appeared online. They were also the subject of numerous threats.
Kotylak's father, who is a doctor, had to abandon his practice for several days. Kotylak skipped his own high school convocation as not to detract from the other student's special day.
The teen volunteered more than 70 hours over the summer in order to give back to the community, his lawyer said.