We live in a world where controversial news stories are force fed to us 24/7 and the more debauched the story the greater the thrust. The current climate has us inundated with sexual misconduct allegations from every field from teaching to coaching to Hollywood producing and it’s making my life and the life of all the other responsible authority figures so much more difficult. It’s important to note that it’s not just men, that there are many stories of female teachers in particular being accused of sexual crimes against children and frankly it’s making me sick. Are we really living in times when these crimes are rampant or is it a case as with the Catholic Church that these things in the past have remained buried with the victims remaining silent through fear of retribution? Whatever the case may be it’s having an effect on how I feel I am viewed while doing the one job that is my true passion, that of gymnastics coach.
I have been coaching for almost 15 years now and I have been lucky to have met some truly wonderful athletes some of whom I am happy to call my friends and whom I have had the absolute pleasure in seeing grow from tiny humans into confident, intelligent and purposeful women. It breaks my heart to think that someone would take advantage of their position in order to manipulate or coerce a child into doing something that they know is wrong. Sadly these things have come to light in our sport and as a male coach in a female dominated sport I can’t help but feel scrutinized for every action I take. It’s cast a sad shadow over the sport and the people I love but I will not allow it to poison the passion I have for gymnastics coaching.
Since the very start, I have committed myself to trying to educate and coach my girls not only in the sport of gymnastics but also in life skills, to give them the tools to handle the stress and competition they will face out in the real world. I think it is critical that we prepare them as they go on, using the drive, commitment and dedication that gymnastics requires to face the rest of their lives with the kind of determination that can make them successful in anything they choose to do. The girls I have coached have touched my heart in so many ways, and although I know I can’t protect them from the inevitable heartbreak that life will bring in all it’s forms I hope that I have given them the strength to get back up and carry on.
I can’t stop being who I am as a coach. I can’t stop caring about these kids just because other degenerates have chosen to abuse their power and position and I refuse to allow sensationalized news stories to steal what should be the greatest experience of these kids young lives. What I can do as a gym owner now, not just a coach is to ensure that we do everything we can to provide a safe environment in which these kids can flourish. There is nothing that fills my heart with pride more than watching my girls go out and tackle life with the passion and aggression that they show in the gym and I will be damned if I let anyone take that away from me.