J-DHS Coaches React to the Sexual Abuse Cases at SU and Penn State
By Jason Klaiber and Ryan Pike
Assistant Features Editor and Staff Writer
Graphic by Holly Deng
It’s been the media’s dream, but it’s a coach’s worst nightmare. The allegations came out in the same month. Two universities have had their reputations tarnished, and legendary coaches Joe Paterno and Jim Boeheim are under public scrutiny. Jerry Sandusky and Bernie Fine have both been accused of molesting young boys. How do the coaches here at Jamesville-DeWitt High School feel about this?
Question: What do you think about the recent Penn State University and Syracuse University scandals?
“I find them highly troubling,” said English teacher Joseph Goldberg, coach of the JV Boys Tennis team.
“It’s very disturbing. Unfortunately, it’s a reflection of our society,” said Chemistry teacher Eugene Sul, coach of the Boys and Girls Varsity Tennis teams and the Boys Varsity Volleyball team.
“I think it’s terrible for everybody: the victims, the schools, the accused [and] the communities,” said J-D Athletic Director John Goodson.
“I feel bad for all parties involved. The ripple effect from something like this is huge,” said physical education teacher Jeff Ike, Freshmen Boys Basketball and JV Football coach.
“I think the statute of limitations law kinda stinks. You wanna say something, but sometimes it’s too late,” said guidance counselor Denise Becher, coach of the Westhill High School Freshmen Boys Basketball team.
“It’s a terrible tragedy anytime people we trust our children to violate that trust,”
said Sports Literature teacher Courtney Romeiser, former Division I basketball player for Marquette University.
“It’s a travesty that people would see something and let [it] go by. In the past, the coach’s word was the word. You didn’t question a coach. Nowadays, people question things more,” said hall monitor Jim Tuck, Coach of the Girls Varsity Volleyball team and JV Football team
Q: An accuser in the Bernie Fine case said people respect the authority a coach has; do you think this is true?
Ms. Becher: “When you win, people respect you more. [Sandusky and Fine] were well respected and they took that power and used it in the wrong way.”
“I think [what they allegedly did] is an abuse of power,” said physical education teacher Emily Rowles, coach of Varsity Boys Cross Country.
Coach Goldberg: “A coach is viewed in a different light compared to a teacher or an adult of a different profession due to their position of power and proximity to student athletes. If not handled responsibly, the opportunity for abuse is unfortunately a real possibility.”
Coach Ike: “It’s hard for me to say everyone respects my authority. There are some people who don’t really care much about athletics.”
Coach Tuck: [After this] people are going to be even more questioning of some of [a coach’s] actions.”
Coach Sul: “As a coach, you have to be that authority figure.”
Q: Do you think that being a coach allowed opportunities for Sandusky and Fine to commit these crimes?
Coach Ike: “No, I wouldn’t agree. I think there are so many opportunities [for sexual abuse] whether it is a coach or another authority figure. There are situations where there are adults and young adults together and it’s not always an athletic or scholastic setting.”
Coach Tuck: “I think that being a coach opened doors for them and presented more opportunities.”
Coach Sul: “Absolutely, because normally these coaches wouldn’t have that contact with young people.”
Ms. Becher: “Those kids were more accessible for [Fine and Sandusky]. It was kinda easy for them to lure people in.”
Q: Will these scandals have any effect on how you communicate with student-athletes?
Coach Ike: “It’s heightened the awareness tremendously and I think that’s good because when it comes down to it, [athletics] are about the kids. The adults already had a chance to play athletics. It’s sad that someone had to suffer for [awareness to be raised].”
Coach Tuck: “I don’t see it changing things that I do. I’d just be more aware of it overall.”
Ms. Romeiser: “I don’t think it would change anything I do. The people who need to make changes are the people who aren’t [coaching] for the right reason. The majority of coaches are doing it to help young people.”
Coach Sul: “No.”
Ms. Becher: “I gotta tell you, it doesn’t. I’m the coach and you’re the player. I don’t cross that line.”
Coach Goldberg: “I think it provides a reminder to all coaches regarding the sensitivity of the position they hold and the extreme care they are bound to.”
Coach Rowles: “Yes, as a female coaching a team of males, I don’t want people to perceive my words or actions as anything other than just trying to help them get better at what they do.”