The child sexual abuse allegations at Penn State, and more recently Syracuse University, have been shocking to many. Parents may be wondering if their children are safe and asking what’s appropriate in coach and athlete relationships.
Mayo Clinic’s Max Trenerry, Ph.D., an expert in sports psychology and neuropsychology, is also a soccer coach who routinely talks to parents and other coaches about what is appropriate in coach and athlete relationships.
Dr. Trenerry’s main message: A coach and a child should never be alone together — even if it’s five minutes before or after practice. The guideline benefits both parties, he says.
Dr. Trenerry says he doesn’t want to discourage parents from letting their children participate in athletics because of the possibility that something improper may happen. Keeping kids fit and healthy as obesity skyrockets is paramount.
Dr. Trenerry cites three key pointers:
- Make sure that adults are “two deep” for player contact. That means the adult coach or volunteer isn’t alone with the youth athlete because another adult is present. This is for the sake of the athlete and coach.
- Get background checks on coaching and volunteer staff.
- Maintain appropriate coach-athlete boundaries. For example, a coach and parent chaperones might take a team to a college or professional match, but an adult should not be left alone with a child. Youth athletes should never visit a coach’s home alone for sleepovers or similar situations. If there are team meetings at a coach’s residence, then other coaching staff or parents should attend. Coaches should not provide athletes with gifts or favors.
To schedule an interview with Dr. Trenerry, contact Nick Hanson at 507-284-5005 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Trenerry in the news: