Regardless of whether you are an athlete or not, whether you have ever stepped foot in the LC, or whether you are pro-athletics or not, you should care about what happened this week. A woman, Jennie Charlesworth, was terminated from Macalester College. Jennie was well-known as the coach for both the Women’s and Men’s Water Polo teams. However, she did much more than this, serving as assistant coach for the swim team, faculty advisor for Little Scots (an organization which pairs younger girls with college athletes to mentor, empower and inspire them to stay involved with sports) and manager of the Riley Pool in all aspects (scheduling lifeguards, coordinating events at the pool and just taking care of it).
Jennie Charlesworth was fired this past week with no explanation given to those around her. As a member of the Women’s Water Polo team, I was alerted on Thursday, at 2:30 p.m.—after fall break had just begun—by a brief email detailing that Jennie would no longer be coaching at the school. I have no details. I don’t know what happened, and I can’t make the claim (though I want to) that Jennie was innocent and has been a martyr in these incidents. However, as an athlete at Macalester—a school that claims to support its students and encourage them to explore new ideas and things—I have not felt supported in this firing. The administration should know better than to handle things with only one email and leave teams to scramble and ask questions.
Here are some of my questions for Kim Chandler, the athletic director here at Mac:
Why was there no investigation into Jennie’s actions before her termination? What could she have done that warranted immediate termination? Even allegations of abuse—the most shocking and awful reason I could think of—require an investigation that takes into account players’ experiences and their view on what happened. There were no signs of this termination coming.
How do you justify terminating a coach ONE WEEK before their team’s national tournament? Men’s Water Polo is hosting nationals this weekend (please go and support them!). Jennie was fired a week before. The men’s team has been heroically scrambling to prepare, but losing a coach is hard. Even holding off one week, would have left them all in much better position.
How many people were aware of what was happening and approved this termination? How many people have to make sure it was legal?
Macalester, this incident was not handled well. Our college has not been transparent about the things happening in our Athletic Department. Instead of involving students and striving to make the athletic department a place where students feel welcome to play sports and work together with faculty, it has become a place where students feel isolated from faculty. There is a gap between the administration and players. This is not the kind of environment Macalester strives to create.
We want a healthy atmosphere where students and administration work together in a relationship of trust and transparency. Please join us in this cause.