HomeCampusUtah AAPI family condemns coach's racist treatment of daughter

Utah AAPI family condemns coach’s racist treatment of daughter

A Utah family of Pacific Islander descent is speaking out after their daughter endured racist bullying from a volleyball coach—and the school district, the family alleged, let him off with a slap on the wrist.

The family’s teenage daughter, who attends Timpview High School in Provo, said she was performing poorly in an October 26 volleyball game against Mountain View High School. The opposing coach, she said, made sure his players knew it.

“I wasn’t doing that well that game and I guess he decided to pick on that and say that I couldn’t pass,” the teen, whose name was not made public, told FOX13. “And then, as the game went on, he said that I couldn’t hit and there was no need to block me.”

The coach’s trash talk continued throughout the match. The teen’s parents couldn’t make out what the coach, who is White, was saying in the huddle. But they grew concerned once their daughter started yelling at him, they said.

Tolai Leauanae, the teen’s father, added that it was loud enough for spectators to hear. Humiliating a child like that went beyond a coach’s expected drive to exploit the opposing team’s weaknesses, he said.

“It just strikes me as kind of odd that she was the one that was specifically targeted and nobody else,” Nimo Leauanae, the teen’s mother, said.

Eventually, Nimo told ABC4, her daughter stopped playing and left the match in tears. She was helped off the court by a coach.

The family tried to resolve the issue with the Alpine School District, which includes Mountain View, in a meeting several weeks later. But the district’s response to their grievances made the family begin to suspect that the daughter’s mistreatment was racially motivated. The parents claimed that the coach acted arrogantly and spent most of the meeting defending himself and his volleyball experience.

“I realized he never apologized to me,” the teen told FOX13, “and he painted me and my family as aggressors rather than just coming up and apologizing to me.”

As a result, the family continued to press the issue. They filed a public records request for documents detailing the district’s response to the incident. Although the district refused the request, the Utah State Records Committee ordered it to comply in July.

The district’s report found that the coach did not engage in name-calling or use profanities. Nevertheless, the district said he did not coach in a game after the episode.

The opposing school, Mountain View High School, located in Orem, is facing broader allegations of racism, also involving its sports program. The United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights is investigating discrimination and a hostile environment for the school’s football players of color.

The teen intends to continue playing volleyball despite the incident. But her parents, who will submit another records request, don’t believe the coach has been adequately disciplined. Nimo said he should have been fired for bullying her daughter.

“The matter is not closed,” Nimo said, “by far.”

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