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City Honors coach taught life lessons

I’m writing in support of Deborah Matos after hearing about her suspension. I played under Coach at City Honors between 1999 and 2002, volleyball and softball, and I feel incensed and offended and want to voice my experiences with Coach in the time that I have known her.

I was not an athlete when I met Coach. I tried out for softball and didn’t make the team, but she encouraged me to stay on as a manager. It was through this experience that she began to influence me both as an athlete and as a woman. She taught me the importance of teamwork, what hard work looked like and how every member of a group is important, has value and should be respected, even the girl carrying the equipment.

Coach demanded that we be better, and she voiced as much every day. I remember being yelled at, being told to leave the gym, and running because of my performance. While it was challenging then, looking back I am grateful for all that she did. Life does not hand you things, and when you make mistakes, life does not always treat you with kid gloves. Coach taught me that, and I am better for it.

She is more than that, though. While in school one of our teammates lost her mother to cancer. She went with us to the funeral and brought us all to practice afterward at the request of this teammate; she helped us regain normalcy and work through our sadness. Coach sat with us on Sept. 12, 2001, and helped us wrap our heads around what had happened the day before and let us know that everything would be OK. I am the woman I am because of her, and hope that these words shine brighter than these misguided accusations.

Alex Valentine

New York City