"Athletes are sensitive human
beings with lives beyond sport;
they are not simply a commodity."

The Coaches' Report

Quotes from Athletes Confronting Sexual Abuse

A 44-year-old man recalls three years of abuse from a football (soccer) coach beginning at the age of 13: "I was scared, frightened, and all I wanted to do was to play football. I wanted to play for [a renowned Glasgow league]." He eventually left the league because "I wasn't being picked [for games], because I think he had gone on to other boys." Another male victim of the same coach recalls, "I grew up in my teens, wondering if I was gay or not. I got married at 19. At the back of my mind I was glad to be married, just to prove to myself I was straight. I've lived with nightmares ever since." (The Scotsman, 11/5/98)

A veteran female tennis player says of the alleged abuse of another female player by her coach: "He had played mind games with her for her entire life to make her feel like 'This is the only way you're going to make it.' It was scary. He could have run her over in a car park and she would have got up and said, 'Well, he's the only one who's going to make me a champion.' That's how he programmed her. He controls these players through fear." (Ottawa Citizen, 6/14/98)

A teenage boy who became suicidal after being sexually abused by his wrestling coach: "I wondered, if I'd killed myself, would they add that to his sentence?" Another male victim of this coach became anorexic. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 5/19/95)

A now-adult male victim raped by his baseball coach, on growing up an abuse victim: "Women turn to other women in times like this. Men don't turn to other men. You're not going to go to another guy with something like this...[I] learned not to cry." (Boston Globe, 7/16/95)

A now-adult female victim of a sexually abusive swimming coach: "He was a very controlling person and when he said 'jump' I hopped. I thought everything he did was for my own good to be successful... He didn't kiss me once or show any affection whatever. [The sexual abuse] was a cold and painful act. He left me home and said I was not to tell anyone. I felt dirty and a lot of pain... I trusted this man and respected him. Our parents trusted him but he abused that trust. His guilty plea has not lessened my burden." The victim stated to police that the coach spoke to her about the "facts of life," and told her that boyfriends would ruin her career. (Irish Times, 1/30/98)

A female volleyball player who was abused by her coach when she was 16 says: "Even now, it's rare that a day goes by when I'm not haunted by that abuse. I often have drenching nightmares, sometimes five nights in a row. I dream he or a big, powerful man is chasing after me, trying to kill me slowly...I felt ashamed and dirty and didn't want anybody to know...The hard thing about coming forward wasn't that my parents wouldn't believe me, but that they would believe me but do nothing about it because (my) volleyball was too important...I hated myself. I always had a lot of faith in God. I couldn't even face God." A friend of this player said, "She became like this machine. She wasn't fun any more. [He] controlled every thought and emotion she had." (Los Angeles Times, 10/19/95)

A 25-year-old woman who was raped and sexually assaulted by her diving coach at the age of 14: "I was very in awe of him because he was a high powered coach and he promised me a lot. He promised to make me a brilliant diver. I was even quite afraid of him. He pinned me up against the wall by the throat. He tried to make me say I loved him and I would still dive with him. I do not think he meant to hurt me, he just seemed desperate." (Daily Telegraph, 12/5/96)

A 20-year-old swimmer recounts her sexual abuse by her coach: "I was 13 when he made his first advances and it's been like carrying a heavy weight around all these years. My feelings towards him are of absolute hatred. My parents had complete trust in him. It's not something they will ever get over...I'd had no idea so many other girls were involved. When I found out, I just couldn't believe it." (London Sunday Times, 10/1/95)

A player abused by Canadian hockey coach Graham James says: "It's accountability we're looking for. From the league and team's perspective it was like (the abuse) never happened. We've never received an apology from anybody." (Arizona Republic, 1/17/99)

A hockey player on abuse in his sport: "You're a kid, you're 15, you're leaving home [to train] and going to a place where you don't know who or where you're going to be with. You start thinking about those circumstances and now you believe it can happen. It's a scary situation. I have kids now. Every parent in Canada and the United States has to be concerned about this." (Arizona Republic, 1/12/97)

A hockey player on another player's revelation of his abuse by a coach: "As human beings, we have to respect what he did [coming forward]. If he gets catcalls or whatever, I'll feel sorry for the person that's doing it. Because it's pretty low." (Buffalo News, 1/12/97)

A hockey player on a teammate's revelation of being sexually abused by a coach: "None of us really knew what to say because we're not psychologists. We said, 'You have to tell somebody' because we didn't know how to deal with it. You hear stories about how something of that nature can affect a person's mental state...None of us judged him at all because he was the victim, and he still is the victim. We just wanted him to find somebody who knew how to deal with it in the proper way -- to get some kind of professional help or counseling." Another teammate said: "I know the guys who were there that night said to him, 'If it happened, it's not your fault. Somebody took advantage of the situation.'" (Chicago Sun-Times, 1/12/97)