Today, on my way to meet a friend for brunch I was enjoying the walk in the crisp morning air opposite Newport Park when I became aware of raised voices. I looked over to the parkland to see a man admonishing a young girl, who looked to be around fourteen. She was dressed in sports gear; on her back a bag containing what may have been a lacrosse stick, I can’t be sure, but she seemed to have just come from some type of practice.
The man’s stance was aggressive and his gestures intimidating. Not all his words were audible, however I caught “You’ve wasted my entire season!” then there were a few F-bombs thrown in for good measure. The girl was obviously distressed and humiliated. She dabbed a tissue to her eyes and trailed behind him. Then he stopped and turned on her again, screaming more abuse.
I was about to cross the road and say something, when the girl turned away from him and walked in the opposite direction, while he stomped away from her like a 2-year-old having a tantrum. The tension left my body as the distance between them lengthened.
I’m not sure what their relationship was. Was he her father, was he her coach; was he both? Please, no! It was telling that he was agitated and concerned that it was his season that was wasted, not hers. I wonder whose needs he was concerned about. It sounded like he was expecting her to do what he couldn’t. I wonder what sort of performance he expected to get from this young woman using those tactics. I was so glad she walked away from him.
All day she has come on-and-off to my mind. I have no way of finding out who she was, but if she ever gets to read this, I want her to know that she’s not a loser, he is. And, if he’s reading this I want him to know that the words ‘man’ and ‘coach’ in their true sense don’t apply to him. Bullies don't qualify.
If anyone should have been embarrassed about their performance today, it was him.