Although both male and female student athletes undergo the same sexual harassment and discrimination training as prescribed by CU’s Title IX Adviser Nancy Hogshead-Makar, the reinforcement of that policy is often a much different scene in the locker room.
Kathy McConnell-Miller, head coach for the women’s basketball team, said that going over CU’s Title IX policy with her players is different from male teams because there is more ground to cover.
“It is important to educate not necessarily on the policy which is already in place, but if anything were to happen, what steps need to be taken in order to deal with it after the fact,” McConnell-Miller said.
In addition, McConnell-Miller said she interprets her duty as coach as not only to reinforce previous training, but also to help student athletes in all aspects of life, including how to balance the pressures of academics and sports. Half of her role, McConnell-Miller said, is making herself available so that players feel more comfortable coming to her with any issues.
“I feel like I’ve got a great relationship with my players,” McConnell-Miller said. “I think they feel safe talking, reporting on anything they might feel uncomfortable with, which is all a part of the open-door policy.”
When players can find a role model in their coach, McConnell-Miller said, then they are more willing to come to her when they have an issue, essentially solving the problems surrounding miscommunication and unreported incidents in sexual harassment.
McConnell-Miller said that having been a student athlete herself, she had “been exposed to what players go through every day” and can understand the life of a student athlete.
McConnell-Miller said the objective of the coaches is to first educate the players on how not to get in a sexual harassment and discrimination situation in the first place, and then to provide open doors to players if it does.
The goal in all of this, McConnell-Miller said, is to teach her players life skills that stretch beyond the domain of this one policy.
“That’s what a coach is for,” McConnell-Miller said. “Teaching the things that will carry over.”
CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard said that the reason the Athletics Department may have been mentioned in Hogshead-Makar’s report in the beginning is actually partly because of the positive attention it was drawing for the staff in the department.
“I think [the athletics department] have some particularly good leadership there,” Hilliard said. “There is a real commitment to putting women in positions of responsibility, and I think it distinguishes us nationally.”
Hilliard also cited Athletic Director Mike Bohn, Associate Athletic Director Ceal Barry and Associate Athletic Director of Compliance Julie Manning as leaders in the Athletic Department who ensure that all aspects of Title IX sexual harassment and discrimination training are covered.
Danielle Crevling, a 20-year-old sophomore integrated physiology major, danced on the CU Express Dance Team her freshman year. She said that on her team, the idea that she knew her coaches and teammates so well was what made her never worry about what she would do in a situation with sexual harassment and discrimination.
“I think the most valuable thing a coach or any leader can do is establish trust,” Crevling said. “When you have trust, problems everywhere tend to just be way more manageable.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Ana Romano at Analisa.email@example.com.