Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Taking a Pass

Our younger daughter was an athlete in school. Beginning age eleven, she played AAU basketball, a select basketball league for players with more talent and drive than average. My husband and I loved to watch her compete and did all we could to support her ambition to improve. (That little girl is now twenty-three and still loves to play basketball.)

During the second or third year, when she was twelve or thirteen, we were approached by an AAU coach about whether she would be interested in playing on the team he coached and substantially funded. He was a retired professional baseball player in his mid thirties who enjoyed basketball. It was quite flattering to have our child courted by a coach with his background of athletic success. And with his sponsorship of the team, it would have saved us some dollars as well.

But after thinking about it we decided to pass on that opportunity and stay with the team she was already on. It seemed just a little odd that a relatively young, attractive man would choose to spend himself that way. The vague feeling of uneasiness was enough to dismiss the opportunity.

Today the coach was convicted of sexually assaulting one of the girls on the team (when she was twelve) and he is awaiting a second trial with respect to another victim. The first victim eventually told the police a couple of years ago. Her parents were the last to know. The girl testified "I felt like if they knew, they would blame themselves. It's not their fault. It's not my fault."

I read the description of the trial in the newspaper today. My heart breaks for those parents who trusted that man and let him into their home and family. You want so much what is best for your children. Someone comes into your sphere and tells you how talented and special your child is. He says what a privilege to help support that talent. And you think "Wow, my girl must really be special to get that kind of attention." Et cetera, et cetera.

I can understand how the mom and dad were deceived. They were deceived by someone who they thought had their child's best interests at heart. It was outside the realm of possibility that someone they admired and trusted could hurt a child, their child. Thank God that dad's testimony was able to help convict this horrible man. Good parents do the best they can. Sometimes terrible things happen.

I can't tell you why we had reservations when others did not. In this case we just happened to find out we were right. I wish for the sake of those other little girls that we had been wrong. But thankfully some courageous young ladies and their families are making sure the "coach" is retired from life, not just baseball.


Lindsay said...

you really had to post that picture, didn't you

not my finest hour...i hope no one i know reads this ;-)

Life in the Fifties said...

You are TWELVE years old in this picture. It's all good.

Sherry said...

I think the picture's sweet, Lindsay :). Kerry, I wish I had trusted my instincts more often than I did. I hope lots of parents read this--whether they respond or not.