I’m still angry. It’s been almost three days since the story about Megan Brown was released. I’m angry and I’m frustrated. I want to scream into the air and when I do I’m usually reduced to tears thinking about Megan and the other victims. I cry for Megan. I cry for the other young women who have been abused. I cry for the women who were tormented and ostracized. I cry for the women who spoke up and were cast away for their bravery. I cry for the athlete that was the star that was tossed aside because they were stronger than manipulation.
Michael Doyle poetically captured Megan’s tale, but his words do not give Megan or her family the justice they deserve. Doyle’s story donned the front cover of Saturday’s printed Globe & Mail. A photo of Megan standing on the University of Guelph track looking somber and broken takes the reader to the centre pages of her tragic tale.
Perhaps the only thing Doyle failed to capture was Megan’s history as a coach — as someone said to me the other day, Megan become the coach Dave Scott Thomas never was and probably never would be. Megan founded MBT, Megan Brown Training. It was a group that was founded on connection and community. It was a group that fostered greatness through setting your own level of success. It was a group that taught each other how to rise up by supporting one and other.
I posted on Instagram my feelings about this story. I did not have the courage at the time to point the finger at the enemy. Yes, Dave Scott Thomas is manipulative, but he is not the greatest danger. The greatest threat comes from Athletics Canada, the University of Guelph, and any other institution that ignored what was going on — to deny Megan justice after her father presented direct evidence of a breach of contract, of illegal activity, of abuse of power demonstrates their immoral, unjust and despicable behaviour.
Sure, let’s call an investigation. But let’s do more than that.
Here are my demands:
- Anyone involved with ‘sweeping’ Dave Scott Thomas’s behaviour under the table or ignoring what was going on needs to resign immediately, at Athletics Canada, the University of Guelph and any other institutions. These people have no place in sport, no place in education. As a coach, an educator, or an administrator your job is to protect the athletes and the students; you failed, you did not protect these victims and you are no longer welcome.
- Stand up and speak out against the power structure. It would be naive to say that only young women are targeted, though their percentages are greater, young men are at risk too. Honest and transparent coaching is what we need. We need all to protect each other.
- All coaches need to be registered with The Coaching Association of Canada and the respective federations. For too long we have operated under the auspices of good intentions, which is not working. The Coaching Association of Canada demands that we treat athletes with respect, that we do no harm to athletes, there is a framework in place to protect not just athletes under the age of majority, but all athletes, who are arguably in a vulnerable position.
- The Ministry of Culture, History, and Sport, along with Own the Podium needs to create a place of reporting for victims. Similar to the doping reporting anyone suspicious of wrongful behaviour should be able to anonymously report. Adam van Koeverden, I’m calling on you to help us and lead the way. You want to do good, create a safe place for victims and those witnessing this behaviour. This is not just happening in athletics, this behaviour has to stop in all sports. Now.
The University of Guelph’s president has apologized to Megan Brown. Stand with me and say no more. Stand with me and help create a positive future for yourself, for the next generation of athletes, for the current generation of runners. Stand with us and say ENOUGH.
Sasha Gollish is a competitive Canadian runner. Follow her @sgollishruns. The picture up top, from left, Alexandra DiGiacomo, coach Jill Mallon, Katie Housley, Megan Brown, Sasha, Erin McClure, Charlotte Aust and Tamara Jewett. The team won the University of Toronto a silver medal in 2009.