14 sports VICTIMS FIND A VOICE NASSAR’S CRIMES OPEN DEBATE ON HARASSMENT & ASSAULT BY SUZANNA LINEK asst. sports editor Athletics play an essential role in the lives of many, functioning as a safe haven, a stress relief, and a means of developing one’s passion. However, the 156 women who recently described their years of abuse and testified against Larry Nassar, USA Gymnastics doctor, have proven that the world of athletics is not always a game. As accusations against Nassar trickled out over the years, the voices of many girls and women who had previously been hushed emerged in full support of their fellow victims. In a sport such as gymnastics, where chances to make the Olympics are slim and the time commitment is immense, the support of parents and the advocacy of coaches becomes essential to the success of an athlete. Nassar’s crimes included an enormous number of female athletes -- 265 unidentified female victims and a huge number of victims in the state of Michigan whose ages range from their early teens to their late 20s -- all of which were female athletes at Michigan State University or on the United States Gymnastics Team, including highly profile victims like Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney. Both women came forward to expose his brutal actions. Doctors should take certain steps to ensure the safety of their patients at all times. “All doctors should explain why a procedure is necessary, describe what they are going to do, and make sure the child agrees before proceeding. Most physicians are thorough when it comes to putting young patients’ minds at ease. If they are not taking this critical step, speak up and require it,” said Laura Daily, an Education, Outreach & Prevention Specialist at the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center. Parents should ask questions at appointments, especially if they do not understand or feel uncomfortable with the child’s treatment. “You have every right to be informed. Most of these preventative steps apply to all areas of life, in and out of the exam room. Plus, they present great opportunities for improving communication with your child and increasing their general safety,” Daily said. Having a voice is hard but one shouldn’t feel afraid to fight against someone who causes harm towards them. “The cultural shift in the last few months has been notable. A culture that believes victims, that allows victims to come forward without fear of retaliation or blame, that holds perpetrators accountable – this is what we need now more than ever. This is how we make a lasting impact today and tomorrow,” Daily said. The hundreds of acts of abuse left Michigan State University, where Nassar was on staff, in a frenzy for evidence about who else might have been part of the abuse besides Nassar. MSU’s president resigned after it became clear that she knew about the first incident and never took action against it. “Our university continues to become stronger and safer as a whole for the campus and students, as investigators look deeper into the case and the camera footage is being revisited,” Olivia Pascente, a Maine West alumni and senior at MSU, said. The deans at Michigan State had no choice but to keep open schedules to talk to students and hear them out individually and teachers have stepped in as listeners, too. “The support and comfort we continue to give to the victims who were assaulted is schoolwide. Things we have done include painting the victims names on our school rock,” Pascente said. “The first basketball game after the trial, teal shirts were handed out to the student section and worn in honor of the victims, with teal standing for sexual abuse. There are also teal ribbons hung up all around campus,” Pascente said. For athletes at West, these issues are paramount. “From day one of the season, we try to really emphasize that we are a family,” head gymnastics coach Amanda Harrison said. “We have an ‘open door policy’ -- we as coaches do not want our athletes to feel that if something has W April 13, 2018 happened, they have nowhere to turn or trust.” For many, an athletic community should be home to a healthy and supportive environment for those involved. “I was disgusted when I heard about [Nassar}. He was someone the gymnastics community trusted. It was even more horrifying that this went on for many years and none of these athletes voices or cries were heard,” Harrison said. The Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center continues to take precautions when incidents arise in Chicago or any nearby communities. “Along with our partner agencies, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Chicago Police Department, Cook County Health and Hospital Systems, and Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, we coordinate the investigations and provide the forensic interviews with the children involved in these reports. We also provide support services to the families that include advocacy, child therapy, referral, and follow up services,” Daily said. In court, Nassar pled guilty, so it wasn’t until his sentencing hearing that the more than 150 women came forward to speak openly about how he had devastated their lives. For Nassar, there is no turning back. After three straight weeks of victim testimonies at his sentencing hearing, he was sentenced to up to 175 years for his crimes. ZAC ABERO
W APRIL 13, 2018 sports 15 SOCCER FOR BY AMAAN SIDDIQUI sports editor UNCLE SAM TRAVELING THE WORLD, JUNIOR STEFAN STOJANOVIC, WHO PLAYS FOR THE U18 NATIONAL SOCCER TEAM, AIMS FOR THE PROS How did you manage to make the team? How did your international experience start? Two years ago, I played at a development academy in Chicago. I got called in June of 2015 to Carson, California, for a U14 camp. Unfortunately, the first day we started training, I broke my ankle after 40 minutes. I was sent home and thought that was it, and that I would never be called back. I went back home, and I just wanted to recover. When I did get better, I was focusing on club, so I didn’t worry about national team. But, in June of 2016 I got called for U16 in San Ramon and we had our first camp. I didn’t get injured and I played well. I got called back for a second camp in September. Afterwards, I started getting called for more camps and international matches. Do you have a favorite game? Our win against our rival, Mexico -- it was 3-0; it was the most incredible game I have ever played in. I scored two goals. After the game, kids wanted our cleats, our shinguards, and pictures. We signed autographs, too. The whole experience was amazing. THE U.S.A. U16 TEAM GETS READY TO FACE OFF AGAINST JAPAN AS THE COUNTRIES’ RESPECTIVE AN- THEMS PLAY. What have you experienced during your international play and trips? Every time you feel like a professional. You have trainers checking up on you, coaches eager to teach you, and people respecting you wherever you go. During game time, hearing the anthem before the game has given me goose bumps every single time. All in all, I have become very mature from my experiences. What are your games like overseas? Where have you played? Who have you played? In October 2016, I got called for an international trip in Paris. We played Russia, France, and England, and in April of 2017 we got called to Montagu, France, where we played Belgium, Japan, Mexico, and Brazil. We beat Belgium and Mexico. I didn’t know what to expect, but when I got on the field I learned quickly how fastpaced the game was over there. The players and the atmosphere around you is incredible; it’s unlike anything in the U.S. U16 BNT What’s your schedule right now? I am currently on U18 and we have played in Chula Vista, in San Diego. We also had a summit camp, with every age group U16-U20, in Florida. The most recent camp was in Orlando in February where we played and beat Costa Rica. What is so amazing about what you have done? There are so many kids that want to do this and not everyone gets the chance to do it. I have gotten an opportunity that I need to seize. It’s been an honor and a privilege. No matter what happens in the future, these experiences will always be great. Where are you headed from here? I can either play in college or overseas. At the moment, my best option is in college, but in the future I have my eyes playing in Europe if the right opportunity comes.