Your Stories

When you tell your story
you become a voice for change

Gender: Female
Grade Level of Event: Club
Sport Played: Volleyball
Your Story: When I was 10 years old my team got a new coach. He was mean and cruel to all the girls, but I feel like he hated me even a little bit more. He called us fat and lazy and we were punished when we lost or didn’t play as good as he wanted us to play. It was normal that at least one girl was throwing up during practice (we even had a rule about cleaning up the throw up bucket…). There were no boundaries and he often came into the changing rooms when were naked or under the showers. It didn’t take long until he also sexually abused me. I don’t know if he did this to other girls, but it seems likely. We went to some adults and said we wanted another coach, but especially our parents were happy with him because we won most of our games. He finally left our club when I was around 16 years old, but I still get flashbacks and panic attacks whenever I play volleyball.

Gender: Female
Grade Level of Event: Sophomore
Sport Played: Women’s Ice Hockey
Your Story: A college in New England has continued to hide the abusive coaching on the Women’s Ice Hockey team. This head coach has had 9 players leave under her coaching in the last 2 years. Four student athletes including myself have been removed for false allegations, targeting, and false reporting in hopes of getting us kicked off the team.

She has treated the student athletes with pure disrespect and cruelty. The humiliation, targeting behavior and making us feel not welcomed has caused 5 players to step away on their own. She has made it very clear that she does not care about our mental health.

Nether does the college, as we have tried time and time again to seek help from them, but they continue to hide her behaviors and say there is nothing to be done.

Gender: Male
Grade Level of Event: Freshman
Sport Played: Rowing
Your Story: A private rowing club took 7 male athletes to the USRowing youth nationals last June, 2023, including 5 minors in the 15/16 age group. The minors were isolated, manipulated, verbally and emotionally abused by their coach, punished for speaking to parents or adult athletes. Any efforts to address the situation with leadership is met with an unwillingness to discuss the coaches. Parents are labeled as “disgruntled”, despite this being a pattern of coaching behavior, from multiple sources, with proof, over an extended period of time.

This behavior has been ongoing since the coach was hired In 2022. She has bashed athletes in front of each other, impeded college recruitment and financial aid, being hostile towards parents, failing to communicate issues. When I took these issues to leadership, they told me the coach’s behavior was unacceptable, measures would be taken, and to include them in future communication. No attempt was made to talk to my child and nothing was done. Any parents that attempt to speak up are met with obstinance, hostility, and ultimately their kids’ playing time is being threatened for not walking away quietly. The kids operate in fear, walking on glass, not daring to say anything for fear of being kicked off boats, races, or having college impeded by coaches. My efforts to speak up directly were met in exactly the same way.

Gender: Female
Grade Level of Event: 9–12
Sport Played: High School Volleyball
Your Story: I have watched two daughters play volleyball under what can be only be described as a ‘toxic’ program. The coach admitted this year to the players that she is working on her anger. From what I have witnessed, it is clear that she should not continue to coach our youth. I have watched my girls (and many others on the teams over the last 3 years and this season) be frowned at, eyes rolled at, laughed at, talked about on the sideline, talked about in front of and to other girls on the team. They are also either yelled at openly, or completely ignored by facing her back to players during team talks. She repeatedly benches players without giving explanations and she gives negative feedback to players when they lose to another team. In fact you can visibly see her entire demeanor change when a loss becomes imminent. She sometimes shuts down and stop interacting entirely. The negativity is beyond understanding and I can see that it taking a toll emotionally on the team. They are fearful of her and as they lose joy for a sport they love, they are afraid to speak up. The worst part is that she is a teacher in the school district and friendly with the high school athletic director, so students and parents have never spoken up because they do not want retaliation on the court. At the end of last year a parent asked (via email) if anonymous feedback to the program be made by a the creation of a simple form but the athletic director chose not to reply.

 

Gender: Female
Grade Level of Event: High School
Sport Played: Unknown
Your Story: I’ve had this assistant coach since freshman year. She’s always been awful to me, but this week she took it too far. I had a college visit set up and reminded the assistant 5 times. The day before I was to make my visit, I again reminded he that I would miss practice the next day. Suddenly, she says I have to go to the Head Coach. I tried to reason with her but to no avail.

I ended up emailing the Athletic Director about this which the assistant found out about and during a subsequent bus trip, I was called to front of the bus where I was made me sit next to her as she yelled at me and shoved her phone in front of my face. In frustration, I said I was wrong to email the AD but she still wouldn’t allow me to leave her. I felt really anxious and upset and when I was finally got back to my seat, I had to use my inhaler. This is just one of the incidents with this coach.

Gender: Male
Grade Level of Event: College
Sport Played: Lacrosse
Your Story: I had an absolutely atrocious coach my freshmen year. What we did is we got the team together, and a couple of the seniors about 1/4 of the way through the season brought him a list of everything we wanted him to change and/or do better.

He didn’t change and basically told those guys to screw off, so we complained to the AD and he said there wasn’t much we could do at the moment.

Gender: Female
Grade Level of Event: High School
Sport Played: Cheer
Your Story: My coach played favoritism by race and the relationship she had with the kids’ parents. Even though other team members had better skills, her favs were chosen as captains and were always front and center.

Gender: Male
Grade Level of Event: High School
Sport Played: Tennis
Your Story: My coach threw a racket on my head during a drill. So basically, I was working on my volleys (lawn tennis) during a session and I was missing quite a lot. My coach was upset and just lost his cool and threw a racket at me. I did get better after that, but according to him my volleys still suck.

Gender: Female
Grade Level of Event: 2nd–8th grade
Sport Played: Figure Skating
Your Story: My coach was emotionally and verbally abusive. She yelled at me and told me that no one liked me. She told me at the age of 9 about her sexual assault and domestic abuse relationship. She lied to my parents. She body shamed me once I hit puberty. She crossed many ethical boundaries, such as inviting me to be in her wedding party and having me sleep over at her apartment multiple times. Later in life I developed depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder due to the abuse I endured from her.

Gender: Female
Grade Level of Event: 9/10 grade varsity
Sport Played: Cheer
Your Story: My coaches have favorite players.  One of those constantly belittles me, makes fun of me, calls me names, told me I should be eating less.  I told my coaches about it and they told me to suck it up.

Gender: Male
Grade Level of Event: Lifitime
Sport Played: Football
Your Story: I haven’t experienced any traumatizing experiences with any coach but I wholeheartedly believe that most coaches used harsh language at kids and hitting our helmets   It is what changes boys to men.

Gender: Female
Grade Level of Event: Multiple
Sport Played: Competitive Cheer
Your Story: As a parent and cheerleading coach myself, I have witnessed cheerleaders be verbally abused about their skill set, body and performance by their coaches. I’ve seen young girls shrink inside themselves as a result of how they were talked to or treated. The verbal abuse created the opposite effect of what participating in the activity meant to create.

Gender: Female
Grade Level of Event: Little League
Sport Played: Football
Your Story: As a parent, I watched little league for years. Over the years I’ve seen coaches grip up kids and yell at them for mistakes adults would make too. I know it’s also about discipline, but sometimes these guys get to rough for little kids. Where it no longer becomes fun. I hate seeing kids cry because an adult treated them like they suck!

Gender: Female
Grade Level of Event: High School
Sport Played: Cheerleading
Your Story: There was a coach that verbally abused the team. She would cuss and yell for simple missteps in the routine. She made every nervous and uncomfortable. She would even get into the girls’ faces to invoke a fight.

Gender: Female
Grade Level of Event: Freshman-Senior Varsity
Sport Played: Varsity Cheerleading
Your Story: I had a coach who would have us run and condition for a long period of time before having us run our routines. Her decision left us so tired that we were not sharp, which would induce more conditioning. The practice would follow right after school and be between 2-3 hours. After seeing us, the football team agreed that these workouts were tougher than theirs.

Our routines caused us injury because we were so tired from the conditioning. We would show up to finals bruised, broken, and limping and then she would ridiculed us if we did not come in first.

Eventually the love of the sport was lost. I think she saw “first place” as her only job while the rest of us saw it as an extra-curricular activity. To her, success was the trophy while for us, success was the experience of teamwork.

Gender: Female
Grade Level of Event: 3rd-7th
Sport Played: Gymnastics
Your Story: I had this coach who would scream and scream at us for hours. He would also take away our water. He would make us practice through injuries and sickness. He would get so mad if you skipped one practice. He would also make us do skills that we have never done before and if you didn’t land it, he would flip out and make you run until you puked. When he was spotting you he would grab on really tight, causing huge bruises. He would spot us and made us so uncomfortable. He would touch us down there. It was a toxic ass place. I hated it there so much.

Gender: Male

Grade Level of Event: 12

Sport Played: Lacrosse

Your Story: The head lacrosse coach used to call certain kids on the team “re****s”, “dip-**it”, “loser”, “f’n re****”, “stupid”. He also made a kid run for a whole practice of 2 hours calling him names and saying he could quit to make it stop. He coached through fear and intimidation while he favored some and tormented others.

Gender: Female
Grade Level of Event: College
Sport Played: Hockey
Your Story: My story is about my experience playing for my college’s female hockey team. I was very excited to play hockey in college. I had been playing since I was five and many former teammates of mine were going to be on the team. The beginning of the season was great. I was having a great time working out everyday, and though we weren’t winning our games, we were competing, and that’s all that really mattered to me.

Things started to change very quickly, though. I started getting less and less playtime without being given a reason at all. I assumed I just wasn’t playing well enough or that my coach didn’t think I was putting in enough effort, so I would give 110% at all games and practices…I wasn’t even dressing for games, still not being given a reason or having anyone talk to me about it.

I asked my coach numerous times if I could talk with them about what was going on only to be told “yes” then being avoided by them so that they wouldn’t have to talk to me…

When I was finally able to talk with my coach about what was happening, only because my mom stopped them…and told them that they needed to talk with me…I was told by my coach that my depression was having a “negative effect” on my teammates…My coach thought that I was suicidal and never said one word to me about it. Never even asked how I was doing. No one did. The coach claimed that my “teammates were so worried” about me, yet none of them said a word to me about it either….Being told by someone with that kind of power that they could see you were struggling and them not reaching out once felt like someone had ripped a hole in my chest. I was not cared about on the team by the coaches or many of the players…. After this talk, I went back to my room and proceeded to throw up because of how upsetting it was being told that my mental health was a burden to my team.

My roommates who were also on the team and some of the few people who actually tried to help me get through my struggles, held my hair back and offered me water while this was happening. Them, having struggles with mental heath as well, told me how sorry they were that I had to go through that, and I appreciate and love them so much for being the few people who actually cared.

When I went in and told the coach that I wouldn’t be returning for the next semester, I was overjoyed with happiness. I hope that the coach will realize how the way that they act impacts players and change their ways…. I’m sorry to anyone who has gone through similar experiences with a coach and I want you to know you are not alone.

Gender: Male
Grade Level of Event: Freshman in College Division 1
Sport Played: Football
Your Story: The abuse started slow and some early things I could shake off or convince myself it’s college football, then abuse became more blatant. How can an offensive lineman be abused? The Coach would spit and hit me over the head repeatedly, kick me when I was on the ground after a bad block and run the stairs of the stadium without water breaks. It even got to the point that this man would hit me from behind and knock me on the ground calling me names. I did a 1v1, no matter who won or lost, he would call me a loser, the most worthless player he has ever seen. The thing about this abuse is that I began to believe that this was all true and stopped caring. It drove me to do things that are unspeakable and made me believe that I should never play football again. I have the lasting effects from the horrible abuse suffered at the hands of this Coach. I have been diagnosed with PTSD and anxiety disorder, lifelong scars. As I start the healing journey I realized that football is important to me and have found a new home to play college football. I still have panic attacks doing 1v1 but the new Coaches understand my trauma and are willing to help me to be a better player. This has been a long journey to healing and I am still healing. I will not let this Coach define me. I will be the only one who defines me.

Gender: Female
Grade Level of Event: College – division II
Sport Played: Volleyball
Your Story: had doctors orders for no physical activity because I had 4 stress fractures in my back.. my coach made me speed walk 4 football field suicides knowing I wasn’t allowed to do any physical activity at all as a punishment all because two people didn’t reply to an email she sent.. she also didn’t have our university’s athletic trainer there because our coach was certified which allowed her to abuse her power over injured players bc we had no one to advocate for us.

Gender: Nonbinary
Grade Level of Event: Club (around 12/13)
Sport Played: Club (around 12/13)
Your Story: i have always been self-conscious, and unfortunately this particular coach’s technique was yelling and getting incredibly mad at his players. he always singled me out and refused to engage in small talk with me outside of practice like he did with my other teammates. i still don’t really remember any particular instances of things he said, which was like because it was traumatic and my brain was protecting me. i don’t play sports anymore.

Gender: Male
Grade Level of Event: Varsity
Sport Played: Tennis
Your Story: My team came to the agreement that our coach was under-qualified but was a good person. But, in my final two years we realized she was not a good person either. I was a starting member on the team and mid season, I noticed my shoulder was uncomfortable while serving. The pain persisted but she told me to just tough it out. We kept advancing rounds that season, and with every round the pain persisted and worsened. Coach didn’t care, she only cared about winning. That summer I attended eight months of pt and got steroid shots because of her. My senior season, I injured my ankle; a second degree sprain. She told me to go get an okay to play from the pt instructor, with a rivalry match coming up. The instructor wasn’t there, so instead I went to the instructor assistant and I got a verbal okay. I told my coach and she sent me off to play. We ended up losing the match and at practice my ankle was in pain. I told the coach, and found out from my teammates she was upset that I didn’t tell her cause she could lose her job when she was the one that let me go. I ended up quitting when a meeting with her and the sports director had her lying to the director, saying that she told me to get an injury slip for my injury yet she never did. When I disagreed, she said that I had gotten one for my shoulder injury when I never had. She was making me believe a reality that was false. Everyone on the team remembered how much I complained about shoulder pain the year before and coach never doing anything about it. I was in PT for months.

Gender: Female
Grade Level of Event: High School
Sport Played: Swimming and Diving
Your Story: Our diving coach would be staring at girls on our swimming and diving team in inappropriate ways- I told our female head coach and I was then gaslit by our athletic dir, superintendent, and FATHER- saying that I was lying.

Gender: Female
Grade Level of Event: Club level
Sport Played: Gymnastics
Your Story: I was playing select soccer for a well known and “renowned” male coach. He coached boys high school and recently started coaching girls. He was beyond demeaning and used belittling language towards all of us as motivation. He coached with fear and the sport was no longer a safe place for me.

Gender: Female
Grade Level of Event: College Division 1
Sport Played: Volleyball
Your Story: I was abused by my volleyball coach. I witness him bully and abuse select teammates. He also had an inappropriate relationship with one of the girls on the team which made everyone else extremely uncomfortable. I was exploited and teased in front of the team. He would be talk negatively about other people in power ahead of him and would act fake in front of them.

Gender: Female
Grade Level of Event: 8th
Sport Played: Soccer
Your Story: I was playing select soccer for a well known and “renowned” male coach. He coached boys high school and recently started coaching girls. He was beyond demeaning and used belittling language towards all of us as motivation. He coached with fear and the sport was no longer a safe place for me.

Gender: Female
Grade Level of Event: Sophomore
Sport Played: Cross Country/Track
Your Story: I told my coach I was going into treatment for anorexia and had to leave the team. After treatment she agreed to let me do less mileage. At a meet the next season I didn’t do very well and at the finish line she yelled at me saying I needed to run more and eat healthier if I wanted to be fast.

Gender: Female
Grade Level of Event: 12 years of my childhood
Sport Played: gymnastics
Your Story: i was always skinny. my coach would find anything to tear me apart. she told me i looked anorexic, and that my body embarrassed her. constantly comparing me to the way my teammates looks and would make sure i hated everything about myself. she downloaded a weight watching app on my phone at age 11.

Gender: Male

Grade Level of Event: Varsity

Sport Played: Football

Your Story: The coach rode my classmates hard, but the upperclassman seemed unphased by it. Coach berated one player and then belittled him in front of the team for the entire two-hour practice because he came in last in a relay. He never came back to the team, others soon followed. I worried I would be next.

Gender: Female
Grade Level of Event: Junior
Sport Played: Basketball
Your Story: He told me I was nothing. He said I was dumb — I’m not going to go anywhere in life. He’d use words that degrade LBTQ and us as girls with obscenities in practices and games. He personally called me a whore.

Gender: Female
Grade Level of Event: 10th grade
Sport Played: Basketball
Your Story: I had a coach throw her keys at me when I didn’t like how I was playing in practice. She then cornered me in the empty locker room with the captain of our team, who was 2 years older, screaming and swearing at me that I was an “f—-ing cry baby!”