Athletes Learning When to Self-Advocate and When to Seek Help
As both a star athlete and tenured coach, Pat Fitzgerald has a unique perspective on drawing the line between competitive conditioning and abusive coaching. As a linebacker for Northwestern from 1993 to 1996, he compiled numerous awards including being named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year twice and the Big Ten Medal of Honor. After graduation, he went on to help coach at University of Maryland, Idaho and Colorado before returning to Northwestern in 2001 serving as the linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator. In 2006, Fitzgerald was selected as the head coach and has since led the team on to win two Big Ten Championships in the West Division. He was also selected as Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2018 and received the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award in 2020.
Melissa Rinehart is the Head Women’s Gymnastics Coach at the University of Denver and coached the team to a 2021 NCAA Big 12 Championship. Rinehart was a gymnast at the University of Florida from 1989-92, going on to coach in 1993 at the University of Florida and then the University of Michigan from 1994-98. Since 1998, Rinehart has been coaching at the University of Denver leading the team to five team appearances at the NCAA National Championships (2019, 2017, 2009, 2008, 2001). In 2019, she was selected as the National Head Coach of the Year and in 2021 led the University of Denver to their first ever Big 12 Conference Championship.
In this video, Pat and Melissa discuss athletes self advocating and when to step in as a parent. Pat discusses that being present and observant with your child is a great way to differentiate if you should have the child self advocate or if you, as a parent, should step in. Melissa goes on to state that mirroring what course of action you, as a parent, would take in a school setting is another way to determine if you or the child should be advocating for themselves.