December 4, 2021

Multiple players from a variety of sports have begun the long process of healing from sexual abuse. When former Chicago Blackhawks player Kyle Beach came forward with news that he was allegedly sexually abused by Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich, it led to more athletes coming out with their stories and seeking the proper support.

This has also helped many other people outside of the sports world realize where they can look for resources.

The Sexual Assault Support Centre Waterloo Region is a local organization where anyone can go to seek help. 

“The individuals accessing our services have experienced sexual violence who are also athletes, whether that be in minor sports, varsity sports, or within the OHL,” said Jessica St. Peter, Public Education Manager for the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region (SASC). 

Jessica St. Peter, Public Education Manager for the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region (SASC). Photo provided by St. Peter

Conestoga College has protocols in place to make sure these situations can be avoided and ensure that athletes enjoy their time playing the sports they love.  

“All student-athletes and coaches complete an annual online sexual assault education module through the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA),” said Andrew Bates, manager of Athletics and Recreation at Conestoga College.

These protocols have been put in place to make sure no athletes or staff are taken advantage of.

The SASC offers multiple kinds of supports to not only athletes but anyone who has been in a situation where they need help.

“That might look like accessing our 24-hour support line or our online chat,” said St. Peter. “That might be accessing individual counselling or group counselling.”

The college also has their athletes and coaching staff take part in an annual orientation session about consent. 

“This includes a video ‘What is Consent,’ awareness information regarding sexual and gender-based violence, and how to disclose sexual/gender-based violence that you have experienced or witnessed,” said Bates. 

Prevention work is key to any organization or team when driving home the idea of having a safe environment.

“Whether it’s our local high schools or community sports programs, to seek out our services around education,” said St. Peter. 

Another way the college helps makes their athletes feel comfortable is by hiring female coaches for female teams. 

One important thing for athletes to know if they ever find themselves in this situation is that it is not their fault.

“A lot of athletes are put in this position where coaches or mentors who are in positions of power, take advantage or manipulate because they know they are in positions of authority,” said St. Peter. “It is so key that the athletes know they are not to blame.”

The athletics management working with Conestoga’s teams strive to be inclusive and open with all their athletes, coaches, and staff. 

If you are unsure where to get help, Conestoga’s student success guide is a good starting point.

SASC also has a male allies program called  “Stand Up, Speak Out.

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