For Coaches Inappropriate coaches

Malaloo

New Member
Coach
Former Gymnast
Jul 11, 2019
2
34
Country
USA
Hey everyone.. first time, long time. I’ve been a coach for 20 years and I did gymnastics myself for 16 years.
I’m only posting on here because I’m not quite sure where to turn. I could really use some help.
Long story short.. I work in a gym that has gymnastics and cheer. We have a cheer coach who has always spotted -and seemed- a little.... “off”. He grabs places he shouldn’t grab and “falls” on top of the girls (which happens every once in a while when you’re spotting I get it, but with him, it’s every single time and only with certain girls). He’s in his 40’s and I’ve had so many of my gymnasts come to me with inappropriate comments he’s made to them or about them. Making comments about their bodies, him telling them they have a crush on him.. things like that.
Every gymnastics coach in the gym has had an issue with this guy for years and many of us have gone to the owners (myself included) multiple times. I can’t speak for everyone but every time I’ve gone to the owners about inappropriate comments this guy has said to my kids, the owners go behind my back and tell him everything I said.
Now - I stand behind every word I’ve said about him.. and I’m absolutely willing to confront him about all of this - but this has caused major issues in the gym and now he and his wife are making snide comments about me when I walk by, talking about me every chance they get to every parent in the stands.. whatever. That’s not the issue.
The issue here is what do I do? My entire Xcel gold and platinum team has something to say about something he’s said to them or a way he’s really made them feel uncomfortable. My bronze group has issues with things he says or does to them while they’re at practice. I’m the head coach of our Xcel program in our gym.. our head level’s coach has gone to the owner’s so many times and nothing has happened other than her getting backlash too. This guy works 4 hours on the books (many more under the table) and his wife works all week for “free”

I think they don’t want to lose what a good thing they have not having to pay these guys... but I’m not kidding, I’m about to walk away from my career of 20 years because I’m being reprimanded for standing up for my gymnasts. When will I actually be able to report something like this without fear of being bullied (like I’m being now) or fear of losing my job?
This is my reputation on the line.... I could really use some help... please. I don’t know where else to turn
 

Eleven sol

Member
Proud Parent
Aug 23, 2015
72
Country
USA
Alert safesport and CPS. You could also encourage kids to tell parents or tell parents yourself. This sounds like grooming type behavior. It’s not okay. Could get you fired but I think with CPS you can report anonymously.
 

rd7

Member
Coach
Former Gymnast
Proud Parent
Aug 18, 2011
142
What a horrible position to be in, I feel for you, well done for doing the right thing.

Assuming that the children are not in immediate danger I would spend time recording exactly what is happening, times, dates, gymnasts comments etc. then approach the owner one last time with the facts. If still nothing is done I would report to the various agencies we have available in the uk, starting with the governing body and then further if still no action. If I felt there was immediate danger I would go to the police straight away. (In the UK we have welfare officers in every gym who will help deal with these situations, I'm assuming you don't have that where you are?)

I really hope you are able to get a resolution to protect the gymnasts and improve your own coaching environment in the future.
 

Geoffrey Taucer

Former Admin
Gold Membership
Coach
Former Gymnast
Jan 21, 2007
4,241
Baltimore, MD
Country
USA
Document specifics, in writing. Specific incidents, dates, and descriptions of what happened. Complain to the owners in writing/email, and save copies. Encourage other coaches and athletes to do the same. If you only talk to them, you leave room for them to pretend they don't know anything's wrong; if you have copies of emails you've sent them, they don't have that option, and they know it.

Once you have enough of this, if the owners don't address it, report it to CPS and safe sport and bail from that gym; if the owners have put up with it for this long, that's not a gym you want to be associated with. Sooner or later the **** will hit the fan, and you don't want to be dragged down with it. Even if the owners do get rid of that coach, you already know they're the sort of owners who put up with this sort of thing at the expense of athlete safety.

Also, keep in mind that bailing from one gym does not mean ending your career. Every gym in the world is eternally shortstaffed; you can always find a job as a gymnastics/tumbling coach.

Good luck to you and to your athletes.
 
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Malaloo

New Member
Coach
Former Gymnast
Jul 11, 2019
2
34
Country
USA
I really appreciate everyone’s responses! The kids aren’t in immediate danger so documenting everything is a great idea. It’s more of a “grooming” thing he’s doing. He tries to be sneaky but my kids come right to me the second he makes them feel uncomfortable. I’ll just have to keep a written record of it. I told the owners in December that my team is more than willing to talk to them about the stuff this guy has been saying/doing. They haven’t done anything other than tell him what I’m saying.
I should wash my hands of this place... just leave.. but then that leaves all my kids without mama bear to protect them. I truly love my job. Coaching gymnastics is my passion. But I feel there aren’t enough resources for people in these types of situations. I’m being bullied for protecting my gymnasts. Sucks that I have to sit back and watch this happen.
 
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Geoffrey Taucer

Former Admin
Gold Membership
Coach
Former Gymnast
Jan 21, 2007
4,241
Baltimore, MD
Country
USA
I really appreciate everyone’s responses! The kids aren’t in immediate danger so documenting everything is a great idea. It’s more of a “grooming” thing he’s doing. He tries to be sneaky but my kids come right to me the second he makes them feel uncomfortable. I’ll just have to keep a written record of it. I told the owners in December that my team is more than willing to talk to them about the stuff this guy has been saying/doing. They haven’t done anything other than tell him what I’m saying.
I should wash my hands of this place... just leave.. but then that leaves all my kids without mama bear to protect them. I truly love my job. Coaching gymnastics is my passion. But I feel there aren’t enough resources for people in these types of situations. I’m being bullied for protecting my gymnasts. Sucks that I have to sit back and watch this happen.
I mean, as a last-ditch thing, you could bail and tell all the kids and parents why you're leaving on the way out. I suspect a lot of the parents would pull their kids out, especially if you went to work at another gym nearby.

Now, granted, this could be considered unprofessional and wouldn't do your coaching career any favors, so do it at your own risk. But "unprofessional" doesn't necessarily mean "wrong," and it would help to keep the athletes safe.

Whatever the case, plan to leave the gym. Even if the owners take action, that doesn't change the fact that they've let it go on for this long. Even if they get rid of that specific coach, you still know without a doubt that the owners are willing to sacrifice the safety of their athletes, and that's not a gym you want to be at long term. (Tangential: I think there's a tendency among coaches to feel a sense of allegiance to their gym, and really there's no benefit to having this sort of gym loyalty.)
 
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Eleven sol

Member
Proud Parent
Aug 23, 2015
72
Country
USA
I think these are great suggestions regarding documentation. I agree it is likely to light a fire under the owner. The only other thing I would encourage you to think about is mandatory reporters are taught not to investigate or assume, just to report to CPS. CPS builds a case file and investigates. So anything that would make me lose sleep I report. What would concern me is what your athletes may not be telling you because they are embarrassed or ashamed....
 

Geoffrey Taucer

Former Admin
Gold Membership
Coach
Former Gymnast
Jan 21, 2007
4,241
Baltimore, MD
Country
USA
I think these are great suggestions regarding documentation. I agree it is likely to light a fire under the owner. The only other thing I would encourage you to think about is mandatory reporters are taught not to investigate or assume, just to report to CPS. CPS builds a case file and investigates. So anything that would make me lose sleep I report. What would concern me is what your athletes may not be telling you because they are embarrassed or ashamed....
Ooh, I didn't even think about mandatory reporting. OP, you might even be required by law to report this to CPS, and on the hook if you don't, depending on where you are. I don't know if those laws are state-determined or nationwide.
 

Happyfeet

New Member
Proud Parent
Mar 2, 2021
6
Country
Canada
1) If it is abusive then following your mandatory reporting in your state/country
2) Pass it on to higher ups in the gym via an e-mail so you have record of it each time. It doesn't have to be much (ie. Sara came to me last night with some concerns regarding the way Joe was spotting and felt uncomfortable. I thought you should know about this).
3) Make some suggestions to gymnast about how to handle this. If you feel uncomfortable with the way a coach is doing something have you told him and asked him to stop? What could you say to him? (This is a good life skill for all children to learn and brainstorm regarding how to solve problems with adults and provides some protection for children as it makes them a less desirable target for grooming).
4) Let parents know e-mail is good again so you have a paper trail. Again doesn't have to be much (ie. Sara came to me yesterday with some concerns about Joe. I have passed the concerns onto our club management and spoken with her about ways to address this with him. Please don't hesitate to call me if you would like to discuss further). Passing information like this to a parent is a must in my book. In the future if something happened with my child and I knew a coach was suspect and did not say anything to me I'd be livid (not to mention a lawsuit waiting to happen in the right scenario).

Also, as a side note the working for free in a position with access to children has my spidey senses on high alert right from the get go...
 

3cats

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Proud Parent
Nov 5, 2018
97
42
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USA
You don't have to confront him or anyone at the gym. You do have to report it to authorities and CPS and safe sport. They are the ones who are supposed to gather evidence and confront if needed. You only need to provide suspicions not proof.

And you don't know if someone is not in immediate danger. If the girls are coming to you with concerns they are feeling nervous enough to feel in immediate danger.

You also need to have a conference with parents if their child is coming to you with concerns. A parent should not be in the dark about these issues. I'd be pissed off if I found out my daughter had been going to a trusted adult to report inappropriate behavior and I (and the authorities) wasn't notified immediately
 

3cats

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Proud Parent
Nov 5, 2018
97
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USA
And honestly, you could lose your job. The whole place should be shut down of the owners don't see to care. I don't think that a job is worth keeping if girls are being sexually assaulted for a paycheck
 

kzpage

New Member
Proud Parent
Gymnast
Mar 16, 2021
7
35
Country
USA
Report it to SafeSport and CPS and let them handle the investigation. I know you mean well documenting but that causes issues bc evidence has been interfered with, it could be argued you planted the ideas (I know you didn't!), plus you could face repercussions for NOT reporting when you know. Unfortunately no matter how this goes down it's going to be uncomfortable for you for which I'm really sorry bc the owners are being absolute gutter trash about the issue.
 
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Mom9024

New Member
Proud Parent
Aug 16, 2020
7
48
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USA
Report it and leave ASAP. Tell the parents on the way out.

I know your post was for coaches, but I feel compelled to speak up as a gym mom whose DD is currently in competitive gymnastics. I'd be out the door if something like this happened at DD's gym, even if it wasn't with any of her coaches. I'd also be lighting up the parent network. You haven't mentioned if other parents have already been leaving, but it's only a matter of time, especially if the girls are speaking up. One of them will report it.

If DD's head coach pulled me aside to tell me why they were leaving and where they were going, I'd be following them to their new gym. And I'm fairly certain so would many other parents.

And I agree with 3cats that the girls may be in immediate danger. This stuff can escalate quickly. Unfortunately, I've seen it at other kids sporting venues with my own eyes, one adult being a little "off" as you put it, a little too friendly around kids, and then next thing you know, they are in handcuffs. You've done everything you can. Report it and leave.