To the Editor:
I am a female student-athlete at DeKalb High School. My athletic career started when I was in sixth grade and I was the only girl on the wrestling team.
I had been around wrestling my whole life because my father had coached it at every level, all the way up to college, and at one time for DeKalb High.
Being the only girl on the team was rather difficult. Although most of my teammates and my coaches treated me with respect, I encountered bullying, sexual harassment, exclusion, and gossip. My eighth-grade year, I experienced severe sexual harassment and decided to give up the sport that I had loved my whole life.
After my experience in wrestling, I was apprehensive when I started at DeKalb High. Being the daughter of a previous coach, I had seen first-hand some of the politics that played out in the hiring and firing of coaches. I still entered the sports world with caution.
Since I was no longer wrestling, I decided to try cheerleading . At first I doubted I would enjoy it as much, but I was pleased to find out that it was far more difficult than I expected.
I was attracted to the elaborate stunts, tumbling, and the choreography.
Athletic Director Bryon Houy was the first administrator to show me that cheerleaders could be respected and treated as athletes. He was supportive of our practices, competitions, and our team.
Houy’s hire of Matt Weckler as football coach was an excellent one. Not only has he taken the football team farther than our last several seasons, but he is a man of high character. Weckler, like Houy, respects my cheerleading team and me as an athlete.
When Weckler learned that one of his football players was a member of our competitive cheerleading squad, he was supportive, often wishing our team good luck on the day of competitions.
Houy has improved our athletic program. He has incorporated the community and made events more family friendly. He brought back some traditions to create unity among the athletes. He has always been an adult at school who I could trust, and his door has been open if I ever needed anything. His future absence at DeKalb High is a huge mistake, and a reconsideration to offer this man a contract should be made.
It was time for a change in DeKalb athletics.