Syracuse soccer player Hanna Strong releases apology

Strong makes first statement since using offensive language in viral online video.

Syracuse women's soccer player Hanna Strong has issued an apology following her indefinite suspension from the team this past weekend.

According to Mike Waters of, Hanna's father, Drew Strong, spoke with a reporter Tuesday evening before his daughter offered a personal apology via email. The apology read:

"I don't know how to express how truly sorry I am for my actions displayed in the recent online video. The words I chose are equally cruel and hurtful and do not reflect in any way how I view those it may have offended.

"The video does not accurately represent who I am or the person I strive to become. However, I put myself in a situation that resulted in this behavior and I take all the responsibility for my actions.

"To the Black and LGBT Communities, Coach Wheddon, Dr. Gross, both the athletic and academic community that is Syracuse University, and to my family, friends, and all those that have supported me: My sincere regret and apologies."

Strong was indefinitely suspended from the team Saturday after an Instagram video that showed her using racial and homophobic language went viral.

In response to the video, a campus forum is planned for Friday, Sept. 12, between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. in Grant Auditorium. The meeting, which is organized by the Syracuse University chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, will provide an open space for students, faculty and staff to comment on diversity issues, said Danielle Reed, a Spanish and African American Studies senior who is involved in the planning as a member of the NAACP’s executive board.

In some ways, Reed said, the forum will be a continuation of the conversation started at the meeting in Goldstein Student Center on Saturday, called in response to the video just hours after it went viral on social media. Organizers of Friday’s forum, including a staff mediator, will open the two-hour event by showing the Hanna Strong video and reactionary Tweets, with the intention that participants can then have an educated conversation on what happened.

“You should be able to come into this forum without knowing anything that happened on campus last week,” Reed said, adding that attendees will leave better-informed. Organizers will also tie in the ongoing controversy in Ferguson, Mo., before opening the microphones for public comment.

Although the forum is independent of the community forum promised by Chancellor Kent Syverud in a Sunday evening email, Reed said the chancellor will be invited to attend. 

Safe spaces to discuss issues of race and identity are rare on campus, said Michelle Bowen, a policy studies and critical and rhetorical studies senior who has been active in student response to the video. She said this was a key point raised in breakout discussions at Saturday’s meeting, and one of the ideas that organizers sent to the chancellor in an email following the same-day meeting.

“This is our school,” Bowen said. “We’re paying the money. We need to be the ones standing up and speaking out.”

For Reed, Strong’s video has acted as a rallying point for breaking open important conversations on campus. “What she said are things that get said on a daily basis on this campus,” Reed said of Strong. “The only difference is that it was caught on video.”

“But had it not been for the video, I can promise you that we wouldn’t be hosting a forum so quickly and people wouldn’t be so excited to attend.” 

Nicki Gorny contributed reporting to this story.

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