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"Time Out" Athlete Presentation Targets Domestic and Dating Violence

“Time Out” Athlete Presentation Targets Domestic and Dating Violence

WFISD takes initiative to educate athletes, starting with football players

 

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Christ’s Home Place Ministries counselor Jennifer Garner leads Hirschi football players in an exercise as part of the “Time Out” presentation Sept. 19 in the Hirschi High School auditorium.

 

 

In the span of 10 days, the Wichita Falls ISD Athletic Department will educate all its junior varsity and varsity football players about the warning signs of domestic and dating violence.

 

The troubling national issue has dominated news from Baylor University to the National Football League in recent months. WFISD Athletic Director Scot Hafley decided to take a proactive approach.

 

“We felt like it was the proper time to educate the young men in our high schools and in our athletic programs about dating and domestic violence,” said Mr. Hafley.

 

In collaboration with Christ’s Home Place Ministries counselor Jennifer Garner, Mr. Hafley created a program specifically for WFISD athletes. It defines healthy and non-healthy relationships, challenges the athletes to evaluate their own life experiences and urges them to reach out for help if they need it.

 

Studies show:

  • 5 million high school students will be physically abused by their boyfriend or girlfriend this year
  • 1 in 3 high school students report abuse
  • 81 percent of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue

 

“We can’t go out and stop what’s going on right now,” said Mr. Hafley of the widespread problem. “But we can try to make an impact on the future. We will try to give kids guidance about the things they should be looking for and practicing in their relationships now to be more responsible adults as husbands and fathers. Taking the approach of changing the future is the right way to do this,” he said.

 

Hafley’s mother, a retired chief financial officer of the Tarrant County Safe Haven Women’s Shelter, helped point him in the right direction with the curriculum, he said.

 

Presentations began Friday, Sept. 16, at the Wichita Falls High School auditorium. Coyote football players emptied 30 pizza boxes, then listened to community members and school counselors offer help and support for any personal challenges they faced with domestic violence.

 

Jennifer Garner, a counselor with Christ’s Home Place Ministries, spearheaded the presentation, telling the athletes they “have so much influence” and can be strong role models for healthy relationships.

 

Community members included representatives from Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Young Life, Midwestern State University, and several churches. “We wanted kids to see people from all walks of life coming in and talking about what it takes to have a responsible relationship,” said Mr. Hafley.

 

The facilitators used statistics about the pervasiveness of dating violence to drill home the “scary facts” about the sensitive topic. Ms. Garner also played a video of NFL Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback William Gay telling how he lost his mother to a temperamental stepfather.

 

“It’s not an in-your-face presentation,” said Mr. Hafley. “We’re not trying to focus on all the evils and horrors you can read about.”

 

Each community member assured the football players that there was an abundance of help for them, should they need it.

 

The presentation concluded with a specific personal challenge to the football players to make a committed written pledge to honor the women in their lives. They were asked to tell the three most important women in their lives what they had learned. They were offered a purple wristband to mark their commitment.

 

The program, titled “Time Out,” will be piloted within a 10-day period in September to all the district’s football players. The Hirschi presentation was Sept. 19; the Rider presentation, Sept. 26. Then it will be debriefed, reworked and presented to the District’s athletes in basketball, soccer and baseball later in the year.

 

Once the curriculum is established, it will be taken to female student athletes next year, Mr. Hafley said.

 

He has received strong support throughout the community and among his coaches for the program. It’s telling that his coaches are willing to shoehorn a presentation about domestic violence into the middle of football season, he said.

 

“Anyone who thinks this stuff doesn’t happen has his head in the sand,” he said. “We like to be proactive and address serious issues with our athletes and provide them with tools to become better adults.”

 

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A Hirschi High School counselor assures the Hirschi football team that she is ready and willing to help them with any problems they have.