Coaches come together to promote domestic violence awareness
By J.J. Kindred | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Coaches serve as role models for their players, whether they want to be or not.
But one message several area coaches came together this month to instill to their players and any other males they encounter is really simple — real men don’t hit. That phrase is also the theme of a partnership that domestic violence prevention organization Haven House has with WMYL-FM radio (Merle FM). The coaches donated their time and efforts to do public service announcements for the station as part of a campaign during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
After recording their messages one at a time, each coach took time to briefly speak with The Daily Times about their involvement with the cause and how they have instilled values among their players and others they come in contact with, and how the domestic violence issue has affected them personally.
“I was surprised by the statistics,” said George Quarles, Maryville High School athletic director and head football coach. “One out of every three families is dealing with some type of domestic violence. It’s the same as bullying — someone who is picking on somebody who can’t defend themselves. Kids shouldn’t have to grow up that way, and women shouldn’t have to put up with that. It’s just the right thing.
“This is what we need to be telling our players — this is not how you treat women, they need to be treated with respect, like a queen and not a piece of property. Coaches have a chance at that platform and we need to use that platform in a positive way.
“My relationship (with my wife) is great. I grew up in a home where there was never domestic violence, and hopefully my kids feel the same way and my wife feels the same way.”
“It’s just a great cause,” said Mark Eldridge, Maryville High School boys basketball coach. “This is something that is hidden behind closed doors that people don’t know about. We all know how it affects young kids, and especially their livelihoods, so the only way to stop abuse is to stop it at a young age and hopefully that will change the course of action, so it’s important we go out there and do it.
“At Maryville, the biggest thing we do is to teach our students the right thing. At school, sometimes we talk to players about treating others like you want to be treated. In my life growing up, I had a two-parent family and have never had that issue in my family.”
“I think it’s important that our men understand that you can’t treat women in a negative light, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally,” said Mike Rader, Maryville College head football coach. I know coaching college kids it’s a crucial point, because they’re one step away from being married. I feel it’s important we as coaches step up. It’s way more than a sport. We have to train our kids in a lot of different ways, and soon as the athletic director called me and asked if I was interested (in participating in the cause), I didn’t hesitate. We’re in season right now and we have practice. I feel like this is a very important cause that I feel strongly about, and I want to make sure our guys understand that this very important to me and this is important to them.
“I’m a native Maryvillian,” said Randy Lambert, Maryville College head basketball coach. “I’ve lived in Blount County my entire life, and I was shocked to hear the statistics that we have domestic violence in one out of every three homes. My mother taught me at a very young age that you don’t hit girls, and that has carried over into my adult life. I think every time a man hits a woman, it’s a cowardly act. It’s totally unacceptable. I hope we can bring about some awareness into the community.
“I try to show them throughout their own personal life how you are supposed to behave and act. I think hopefully they see me as a good father and good husband, and I think that will pay off for them down the road.”
“It’s a great cause,” said Kevin Windle, William Blount High School head boys’ basketball coach. “The statistics speak for themselves. On a personal note, I had family members that went through similar instances, so it hits home. If I can help the cause in anyway and try to promote leadership and examples to the younger kids, especially the men, then we can change it.
“My twin sister got into a situation with that. I was mad and scared for her. She had nowhere to go, but it was places like Haven House who provide that shelter, and luckily she was able to get out of the situation and into the women’s shelter. I try to support them as best we can.”
“Obviously, I coach girls’ basketball, and so my thing is for these young ladies to start recognizing the signs,” said Todd Wright, William Blount High School head girls’ basketball coach. “They’re dating, they have boyfriends, and it starts early. Like I’ve been told and heard from the statistics, it’s a generational thing. I want these girls to be able to recognize when their boyfriends are mistreating them, emotionally, physically, whatever it may be, and because they have great futures ahead of them and we don’t want it to start now, especially and definitely not when they have their own families in the future.
“(The players) probably know more than I do. They just need to be aware and keep their eyes open, and don’t turn your heads because there are hurting people everywhere. One thing about athletes, especially in this county, these players are looked up to. Although they are girls’ basketball players, other girls in the school and younger girls look up to them, and they are examples and leaders in the community as well. “I’ve been coaching for 13 years, and there were players here and there that have told me about things going on. I have heard hearsay and things going on — it’s just a sad situation that young high school students have to be around and you hope they learn from that and carry on in the future.”
“I think it’s very important that a person speaks out on an issue that affects so many people,” said Tony Jones, Alcoa High School head boys’ basketball coach. “It just doesn’t affect the victim, but it affects significant others, children, grandparents and things of that nature. It’s a mind-set in our society that men have a trait that trickles down into a situation where women see themselves as second-class citizens and don’t view themselves as a male equal. You talk about the physical aspect of everything, and men in some instances are individuals that perpetuate these crimes that don’t need that happening.
“My sister was a victim of spousal abuse, where her husband put his hands on her. She had physical and emotional scars that have been prevalent for a great deal of time. It hit home to me in that particular situation. I try to tell my players the right and wrong things, and the do’s and don’ts. You tell them simple rules such as be on time, go to each and every class, don’t do drugs and don’t partake in any physical violence as far as the opposite sex. I think any time you get people that have notoriety in the community such as the coaches, I think people listen to them. Those are the leaders of this county, and it’s positive to say things such as that, because people in the community will listen. I think this a worthy project undertaken.”