WBHS athletes will work to stop domestic violence
By Matthew Stewart | (email@example.com)
William Blount High School’s athletes have a new game plan: Stop domestic violence.
Maryville College men’s basketball coach Randy Lambert, former University of Tennessee men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl and Haven House Chief Executive Officer Valerie Day spoke Tuesday afternoon with more than 60 athletes about domestic violence. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
One out of three Blount County families experience domestic violence, according to Haven House data. One out of 10 high school girls nationwide has experienced domestic violence.
“I’m a Blount County native, and I don’t want to see a family or young person destroyed by something like domestic violence,” Lambert said. “It causes tremendous damage, physically, mentally and emotionally.”
Speakers focused on domestic violence committed by males because it’s more prevalent, statistically.
“Real men don’t hit,” Lambert said. “My mother taught me that you don’t hit or strike a woman. It’s part of being a Southern gentleman. You treat people with respect. Not to mention, hitting a woman is a very cowardly act. If you feel the urge, pull back. Talk with your coach, preacher or teacher about it. Get some help.”
He also stressed the importance of relationships built on respect, trust and equality. “If there’s not respect and trust in your relationship, you need to get out. For you ladies, if you’re in a relationship where violence takes place, get out. I’m not just talking about physical violence. I’m talking about verbal and emotional abuse, attacks on your personal self-worth, controlling and obsessive behavior. You need to stand up and get out.”
William Blount’s athletes have an important part to play in stopping domestic violence, Pearl said. “God has blessed you and all of us. He gave you the size, speed, toughness, discipline and the ability to play the games you play. You’re the best at what you do, and people look up to you. You need to separate yourselves from the norm. You need to demonstrate excellence, academically and the way you carry yourself on and off the court. You have unbelievable responsibilities and the opportunity to make a difference.”
He later challenged students to take a stand against domestic violence. “How good do you want this school and community to be? You can’t be silent. If you’re silent, you might as well be doing it yourself. You might as well be yelling at her or putting a hand on her. Would you let someone treat your mom or sister that way?”
Pearl also encouraged the high-schoolers to see beyond childish, demeaning behavior. “You might think some things are funny, but they’re always funny at someone else’s expense. If your buddies are saying something demeaning or disrespectful about their girlfriends or other girls and you don’t say anything about it, you’re contributing to the behavior.”
Students were receptive to Lambert’s and Pearl’s messages.
“I enjoyed hearing what they had to say,” said senior Taylor DeArmond. “I’ve never heard about (domestic violence) in depth. I didn’t really know much about it, but I learned a lot from them. They’re role models to me, and I was definitely affected by what they said. I think everybody who listened to them will try to spread the word.”
“I’m pleased to see that someone’s out there and willing to help,” said senior Kristin McGill. “I know someone who’s been abused. Someone broke her nose, and she had to have surgery. I’m planning to call Haven House and ask for help. I’ve always tried to help people, because kids look up to me. I know that I need to be a leader.”
The presentation was a part of William Blount High School’s Character Counts program, which is sponsored by Newell Rubbermaid and the Maryville Zaxby’s.