I closely followed the story of 17 year-old soccer player Caitlin Frisina, who was reported missing after running away with a 27 year old soccer coach in Florida.
I identified with the story only because my family lived that travel and high school soccer world where you had to trust that male coaches and parents would treat your daughter like they were their daughter, instead of a sex toy.
My daughter Celine played soccer for 12 years and along with the practices and games meant sleep overs, hotel stays and hours where she was not in our custody. You had to have trust in others and others needed to trust you when their daughters were under your custody.
We were lucky. No coach or dad tried to hurt Celine. Maybe it was not pure luck because the men who fathered some of her girls — Sami, Miss Burger and Lauren A — were men of integrity and I trusted them.
We didn’t just watch our girls play soccer but we grilled together, traveled together, shot the breeze together and laughed together.
I feared no problems and Celine said not one treated her badly. It was not luck that I encountered. It was expectation.
Here is how I approached it. When the girls piled into our basement for a sleep over, they were not Celine’s friends. They became my daughters. In other words it became my job to serve, protect and shelter.
I loved the laughter and chatter from the basement because it meant Celine was happy. I set up the basement with sleeping bags and air mattresses before the guests arrived and the only time they saw me was when I served pizza and my delicious but not so world famous nachos with three different kind of cheese.
We parents and coaches need to think big picture instead of acting out urges. If I did something inappropriate I was letting the club down, letting the parents down and letting Celine down.
I could not do that.
I don’t know what happened in Florida, but a coach over stepped his bounds and lost the trust of a lot of people. Even if the soccer player was OK with it, you must remember that she is a child. There is no excuse for what the coach did.
I am just glad she is safe and alive now.