According to San Antonio news station KENS5, a swim coach in Northeast ISD is under investigation by Child Protective Services after complaints from a member of the swim team over a punishment used by the coach.
Stacia Trujillo, a student at Reagan High School, claims that her head coach made 15-20 students do bear crawls around the school’s track as a punishment. For those unfamiliar, bear crawling is more-or-less walking on all fours with one’s butt in the air – a rather strenuous physical activity. The coach in question was not specifically named in the article, but the head coach at Reagan High School who was alluded to is Mike Sansavera.
Correction: a previous version of this article misidentified the coach, using a coach from a different Reagen High School.
The student complained of “blisters and other injuries” as a result of the punishment.
A district spokesperson told KEN5 that “As part of a typical workout, conditioning, these swimmers do bear crawls on a regular basis. Typically, they’re done on a field though. On this day, the field was wet. The coach didn’t use his best thinking, it was a poor decision. He was reprimanded and instructed not to do bear crawls on the track again.”
A spokesperson also said that the involvement of Child Protective Services is standard protocol when there are injuries involving juveniles.
“I don’t think this is a reasonable punishment. This isn’t what swimmers are meant to do. We don’t do hard stuff like this. We don’t train like that. Even sit ups, or push ups, or bear crawls on grass, would have been okay on short distance,” said Trujillo to Kens5.
Both the Reagan boys and girls teams have strong swimming traditions. Their girls placed 51st at the Texas 5A State Championship meet this year, and their boys placed 11th.
The response from the student body and local community has been strong, though divided, with many supporting the coach and the idea that this is a minor “teachable moment” that has been blown out of proportion, while others have backed the students against what they feel is an unfair punishment.
At some point in the not-too-distant future, the growing battle between the rights of athletics coaches and the rights of students and their parents is going to come to a tipping point, and one-side-or-the-other will be against a wall and have to take a ‘quit if you don’t like it’ approach. At all levels of all sports, however, there has been increasing power given to students when making claims against coaches. In some cases, these students’ complaints are nearly unanimously appropriate, and in other cases, such as this one, the claims are murkier, and fall more into the murky gray areas.
The force behind this modern reaction seems to be decades where horrid things done by coaches were ignored – things like physical and sexual abuse. Those atrocities have forced the pendulum to swing, and just where it will settle out remains to be seen.