By Kay Helbling
What’s happened to the coach who aspired to guide youth to be strong, respectable and responsible citizens—to reach their goals through hard work and determination—to hold up their heads with the pride of knowing they are winners because of who they have become, not by the trophies they earn—and, to play by the rules both on and off the field. Too many of the coaches in Oregon seem to have misplaced that playbook.
Just in the last couple of months there have been several very disturbing examples. The Crater High School wrestling coach who allowed an ineligible wrestler to compete in a tournament under a false name. The baseball coach at Lincoln High School who took his players to a strip club during a school-sanctioned trip. And just last week, the head wrestling coach at Lake Oswego found promoting a growth supplement to some of his wrestlers.
Certainly these pale in comparison to the many accounts of coaches who have been found guilty of sexual misconduct with players. But, that shouldn’t give a pass to the greater message. A coach is expected to teach as well as model a code of ethics. Sports should be the place a student can go for a healthy alternative to gangs, drugs and sex.
The relationship coaches have with their players puts them in a unique position of influence and authority. To many athletes their sport not only defines who they are, but is the center of their important social sphere. Saying “no” to a coach under those circumstances requires a level of maturity that most kids simply haven’t acquired.
I don’t know which coach was worse. But, I think it’s time they all take a time out and reevaluate their plays.
Kay was an insurance adjuster and executive for 15 years, a small business owner and a teacher for 10. But, her most fulfilling work has been as a mother of her two boys. She is now looking forward to an empty nest with her best friend—her husband.