Saturday 21 November 2015


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I know the story of the inappropriate coach or gym teacher a little too well. Our high school had a couple of men who were consistently inappropriate with the teenage girls who were entrusted to them during school or after school hours.

There was a track coach, in his early thirties who was always flirting with the teenage girls on the team. He watched them stretch before practice and loudly and openly made comments about their bodies. He stopped my sister in the hallway, looking her up and down saying she had the body for track. And by the time I was a senior one of the girls in my graduating class was openly telling people they were in some type of twisted relationship. Not only was she underage, he also had a wife.

The last I heard of him, he was divorced.

So when I heard the story of the seven young women who were kicked off their high school’s basketball team in New Orleans after claiming their coach was “too touchy-feely,” I was disgusted but not surprised.

According to the New Orleans Advocate, a day after seven girls refused to play for their new coach, Panos Bountovinas, he kicked them off the team. Bountovinas broke the news to them in a meeting the day after their protest. When the girls asked the school’s principal, Brennan McCurley, why they weren’t allowed to play anymore, he told them they also weren’t allowed to ask questions.

Kayla Sibley, a senior on the team, said that she didn’t feel comfortable around Bountovinas because he would often touch her.

“I felt uncomfortable around him on and off the court because he was very feely. Hand on the shoulders and other places and stuff,” Sibley said. “It made me feel uncomfortable. I never had a touchy-feely coach before. I felt uncomfortable.”

The day before they were dismissed, the seven young ladies boycotted their away game and instead attended a boys basketball game on their home court.

Only five players dressed for the girl’s away game and Salmen lost 47-45.

Myles Cooper, a parent of the one of the girls dismissed from the team said, “They didn’t play because we wanted to get the principal and the coach to the table to talk about the issues we have. This is not a witch hunt against the coach. We want the best for our kids, and we want our kids safe.”

Coach Bountovinas is just in his first season at Salmen. He spent two seasons at Mount Carmel, where he led the team to the 5A state championship. But resigned last season, citing personal reasons.

Cooper said immediately after Bountovinas was hired, parents had a meeting with the school’s superintendent to question the school’s process.

“After that meeting we were assured everything was going to be OK and we should move on as one unit.”

But according to the team members, Bountovinas’ actions didn’t leave the students or their parents feeling confident.

Sibley said, “There were two games this season when (female assistant coach Wendy Stampley) told him to get out of the locker room while we were dressing. He hesitated. Coach Anderson, (the girls’ previous coach) last year never had that problem. Coach Bountovinas was just standing there. It took him a while to get out. This has happened more than once.”

The mere fact that the principal told the girls they couldn’t ask questions when they were the ones who felt like they had been violated speaks volumes. They should at least have the opportunity to express their grievances in allegations as serious as these.

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