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Monday, January 30, 2023

Dear college coaches and athletics: Enough is enough

“I lost confidence in myself and in the game that I love”

Opinions generic
Opinions generic

When I first stepped onto campus at Belmont University, I didn’t know that would begin both the best and worst four years of my life. 

For the first three years of my collegiate career, the man who recruited me was not the same man who was on campus when I got there. By now, I believe you have heard of him, Cameron Newbauer. Everything that you have heard is true. There were things said to me back in 2014 that I just recovered from last year. 

I went through depression, I questioned my existence, I lost confidence in myself and in the game that I love -- and the list goes on. Everyday, his words were a K.O., and when I got knocked to the ground each time, I got back up slower and slower. 

But I don’t want to talk about Coach Cam, but rather all the other Coach Cams out there in college basketball. I want to address the issue that has been avoided for too long. To every athletic director, booster club member or anyone of importance in athletics, take ownership of who you hire. A superficial trophy and a dazzling ring is not worth dozens of women traumatized and left to deal with issues caused by a coach for years. 

It took me seven years to recover from the things said and done to me. That is not O.K. It is time to put a stop to this. Coach Cam is not the only one out there verbally abusing student-athletes. It is time to care more about the student-athlete than how many rings are won or trophies are put in the trophy case. If you’re an athletic director, when's the last time you came in and sat down at a practice? When’s the last time you pulled some student-athletes in your office to check on them? 

If you are a coach reading this, when’s the last time you looked in the mirror and asked yourself, if you have a daughter would you want your daughter’s husband to treat her the way you treat your athletes? If you have a son, would you want your son to treat his wife the way you treat your student-athletes? It begins with you; Change. 

Use your power and influence to better impact these student-athletes instead of beating them down. There is a way to push student-athletes in a positive manner without belittling them. Lastly, I ask that you heal. Take the time to figure out why you are hurting other people. Who hurt you? Why are you taking your past wounds and bleeding on other people? You shouldn’t be coaching if it’s causing pain and damage to others.

NCAA, how many conferences do you offer that are focused on training coaches? You offer the biggest names to show offensives and defensives, but why don’t you offer clinics for their mental health? Why don’t you get previous athletes to speak on how they were coached? When you offer former collegiate athletes to speak, sign me up!

Coach Cam, if you are reading this article, I sent you my book, “Have Faith Like Noah” before I published it on Amazon. You apologized and told me you are a changed man. When The Alligator article came out, I was sick to my stomach because you lied to me yet again. 

Do not call a single player and go on another apology tour like you did when you left Belmont University for UF. Take the time to forgive whoever hurt you, find yourself and change. We don’t need an apology; We want you to heal. I’ve always kept it real with you, and like I’ve said to you before, I’ll wait on your actions. Coach Cam, I’ve seen your heart and you can change, you’ve got it in you.  

And to all of those beautiful women who have played under Coach Cam, or coaches like him, I pray you heal. Get out all your frustration in a healthy way. Allow yourself to cope and lastly, forgive. Once you have forgiven, you will be free. I am with you every step of the way. Is it a process but you will come out better and stronger.

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Sierra Jones is a former Belmont University basketball player.

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