Multiple members of Penn’s volleyball team have accused coach Iain Braddak of mistreating, dejecting and offending players throughout a horrendous 2018 season with inappropriate coaching tactics, according to a report published in The Daily Pennsylvanian on Thursday. The players also told the Pennsylvanian that they received little to no support from Penn Athletics about their concerns, even after eight players had filed grievances against the coach.
The report itself details how Penn volleyball had gotten to the point where it had just played its worst season in history, lost three players—including Caroline Furrer, a captain—and had many of the players that remained experiencing their first-ever issues with mental health. The student-athletes detail the uneasiness that Braddak made them feel throughout the season, the inconclusiveness of a moderated meeting between players and coaches, and the hopelessness that inaction from administration has caused—a feeling that seems to be shared among the team.
The first example introduced in the report of Braddak being a terrible coach happened after an unnamed senior on the team went to talk to him about how to improve so she could get her starting position back after losing it due to a concussion.
Instead of giving constructive feedback or an explanation for her lack of playing time, multiple sources confirmed that Braddak told her not to worry. He said her situation could be worse: She could be addicted to heroin or commit suicide, like players Braddak said he knew of.
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This is then followed up with the coach instructing an assistant to hit one of his players in the face with a volleyball so that she could learn better form, or something.
While doing defensive drills in practice, one player was singled out for missing two balls, each passing in between her hands, which were positioned too low. According to multiple players, Braddak subsequently instructed his assistant coach Julia Malseed to hit the player in the face with the next ball in order to teach her to keep her hands higher.
Braddak reportedly then ended the season with an overreaction to an incident involving recently-acquired team jackets. When the coach discovered that Carolina Bolling had lost hers, he called a team meeting and accused players of not just stealing the jacket, but also bullying Bolling. He also did this in private meeting with team captains. It turned out that the jacket had been misplaced all along. A couple weeks later, Bolling left the team for reasons not made clear in the report.
What’s made clear in the report is that the players the feelings of uneasiness that came as a result of these incidents were exacerbated by the worst season in program history. But, the implied message from the players interviewed, and Penn Athletics’ actions, or lack thereof, seems to be that the administration is just okay with letting this uncomfortable feeling sit with an entire team, for at least another year.