A College Athlete’s Story – ‘You Will be Treated like Royalty’
(EDITOR’S NOTE: What follows is the “experience” of Emma Peck, a Division 1 athlete playing field hockey for the University of Massachusetts.)
My main goal of this writing is to explain my side of my mental health journey and how this entire process and field hockey program has detrimentally ruined myself along with many other aspects in my life. I am writing this to also spread awareness to not only the UMass field hockey staff, but also other coaches to be aware of this. I hope other coaches and Barb Weinberg can look out for the mental damage she can do to her athletes, especially as it has had myself contemplating going on with life.
I am also writing this to create closure for myself and my mental stability so I can move forward with making this very negative experience, a positive outcome for myself, as I spread awareness of this issue, to ensure it does not happen again.
I want to spread awareness to you guys and potential future UMass athletes that this can happen. Even if you are on a binded scholarship with athletics. I want UMass field hockey to understand that even though you may be breaking promises made to get athletes to commit to your school, I am not backing down. This is not where my journey ends.
I am asking Barb and other coaches who decide to go this route of dismissing an athlete from their team, to give the athlete some sort of warning or to at least tell the family what is happening, so they are not blindsided by this. Especially when it comes to the financial part. When Barb manipulated my father into thinking we were rearranging my scholarship for her team, when in fact you would use the 10% against us when cutting me from my team.
Barb told my father the day before I signed my binding contract that she would be re-arranging my scholarship. She did this due to “making room for other athletes to have scholarships.” She promised me, in writing, 10% scholarship my first two years, and then 50% scholarship the last two years of my college career. In the meeting when she cut me, she then told me I would only be getting 10% my four years at UMass.
After all of my fight and research into my scholarship and the NCAA rules, I did ultimately get the money I was promised. This was after Barb thought I could be so far as manipulated into thinking I was only getting 10%. If I did lose that fight, I would be in community college right now. She frightened my family into thinking we would be in a huge financial scare.
When I was cut, I never got a reason. All I got was “we are re-evaluating the roster and you will not be on it.” But instead of telling the victim, me, she told some teammates that she would be turning it up a notch and that I couldn’t hang with that. Barb Weinberg told other people the reason for my cut. Not me.
I did not fail a class in the University, make a violation of the athletic department and team rules, violate of the NCAA and or University of Massachusetts drug testing program, and so on, instead I got kicked off the team because of my performance after four months of being on the team as a freshman.
Barb, not only your actions, but your words have hurt me. When you told me I was out of shape, and not at D1 level, I did not fulfill my eating habits. I thought I needed to look like the other girls on the team that were exceeding a higher level than me in your eyes. This lead me down a worlwin of a restricted eating disorder. Your words hurt the most when I was called in for weekly meetings just to get put down on for the hard work, I was putting in.
I was called in for 6 weekly meetings. When I received these text messages, to be called into a meeting, my whole day would be ruined. I would never know what to think as I was having extra running sessions and putting in so much hard work. As I left every meeting, I was knocked down another level emotionally.
Other student athletes are scared as to what will happen to them next. Some have seen it firsthand as to what has happened to me.
As I was getting knocked down every meeting, I was also being isolated from the team more by Coach Weinberg. I had to sleep in the same room as a manager and another student athlete on away trips, totaling 5 nights all together. No one else on the team was chosen to get the short end of the stick. Everyone else got their own bed while I had to share a bed.
Barb, when you handed me a hotline number after cutting me from the team, like a Walmart cashier giving a number to call if they had a bad experience, I did not hear from you again. Even though I dedicated 4 years to this team, and you promised to dedicate 4 years to myself. “I can see you as our starting center defenseman.”
My entire life has been dedicated to sports, especially field hockey. What am I going to do now that my identity has been ripped away from a coach?
Transferring was always an option. But why would I continue doing this sport when someone has ruined my trust with all people in athletics and ruined the one sport and hobby, I put my life into?
I am emotionally fragile, I have lost my team, and I have lied in bed many days wondering if there is even a reason to get up. And this is because of UMass field hockey’s coaching staff. This is just a fraction to what I have been through with this athletic department.
I am lucky I am here today. I am lucky I get to wake up every morning feeling empowered enough to keep spreading awareness of this awful experience I have gone through.
I am now using UMass, like they used myself and my family. I am getting a degree here to become an amazing teacher who will have a positive impact on other’s lives, unlike this coaching staff that only has negative impacts.
I have been mentally abused and drained to no end. My journey does not stop here. I am sharing my story and I am being heard.