Remember back in the good ol’ days when all you had to worry about was a coach yelling at your kid?
Times have changed.
Now you can’t skim national headlines without reading at least one story involving coaching misconduct.
Here are three such cringe-worthy stories:
1. A high school softball coach in Seattle sent his players on scavenger hunts to find him dates. The most recent object of his affection knew how to search his name on the Internet and didn’t like what she found out about the coach. He had left another school after it came to light that he was sending a student inappropriate text messages. Although he never received disciplinary action, he failed to appear on the subsequent season’s roster for that school. Troy Hennum, 25, was six days into his new job at a new school with Seattle Public Schools when he was placed on unpaid leave after school officials learned that he was using players as recruiters for potential love interests. He has since resigned.
2. The University of Utah’s head swimming coach Greg Winslow is at the center of an investigation surrounding the alleged sexual abuse of a 15-year-old girl. For years, both parents and student-athletes approached the University of Utah athletic department with multiple allegations of abusive behavior by Winslow — some dating back to as far as February 2008. Yet, he was never disciplined that is until the most recent report of abuse. Winslow was finally suspended in February.
Some of the past complaints against the coach include:
– one swimmer blacking out in the pool due to lack of oxygen
– another swimmer was forced to swim underwater with a mesh bag over her head
– another was forced to swim laps while holding a metal chair out of the water
– one student said his back and arms were taped to PVC pipes before doing “underwaters” – a swim technique.
For those left wondering “What’s up with our country’s coaches?” you need to look no further than Canada to realize that bad behavior is not confined to our nation’s borders.
3. Former youth hockey coach Martin Tremblay was recently sentenced to 15 days in jail after being caught on tape tripping a 13-year-old kid during the post-game handshake line – a cheap shot that caused the boy to break his wrist.
Tremblay’s lawyer told news reporters that jail time is only one of the aftermath effects of the coach’s poor judgement, citing that his client’s construction business has lost contracts and the incident ended his marriage.
I’m the first to admit that there is a “thrill of victory and agony of defeat.” I’ll even go on record admitting that I’ve yelled at referees and umpires, as well as complimented them when they got calls right, at my sons’ games. I’ve also stressed to both my boys that an official does not make or break a game. In the end, you sometimes need to agree to disagree.
I’ve taught them to respect their competition. They have learned that some kids play fair, while others play dirty. No kid innately knows how to play either way. Parents and coaches are the ones who teach them.
I firmly believe that coaching is one of the hardest, most underrated gigs out there. If your son or daughter has a good one, take the time to thank that person for their positive impact on kids.
Heidi Woodard is married with three children. Read her Thursdays on momaha.com
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