The Coach was always on her, trying to exhort her to be more aggressive and to shoot the ball more often. “Shoot, shoot, shoot!” He would scream at her constantly, making her uncomfortable, and she would pass the ball to a teammate and try not to hear his torrent of insults.
She turned eighteen on Monday and, as an adult, told him to stop treating her like a child. She did not appreciate his demeaning remarks.
He said he was glad she was now an adult and that he wanted to work with her more after practice, “One on one.”
When Coach blew his whistle to end the day’s practice, she started for the locker room with the rest of the team, and he stopped her. “Not you, I’m not done with you yet.” He passed her the ball and told her to drive past him for a lay-up. As she did, he stepped in front of her, and she ran into him, clearly a blocking foul on the coach.
He said, “Again,” and the same thing happened.
“Again.” They ran through this drill for five more minutes, her breath coming in short bursts. Sweat streaming down her face and soaking her team jersey tight against her body.
She heard the locker room doors slam as the rest of her teammates left the building. The coach said, “This time when you come in, turn your back and force me to move, so there is no blocking foul.” She did this, and he moved toward her and against her, then reached his hands around and clasped them on her chest. She screamed and tried to jerk away. He put a hand over her mouth. She struggled and broke free and ran from the gym.
She ran to her car, opened the trunk, took out her birthday present from Grampa, and went back to the gym.
The Coach was in his office, surprised and wide-eyed when he saw her.
* * *
She sat erect in the witness box, wearing her favorite Sunday dress. Her long hair in a single braid down her back, her dark eyes held no malice.
After her testimony, the Public Defender asked a simple question, “Why, did you do it?”
She turned to the jury, smiled, and said quietly, “He told me to shoot.”