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LETTER: Coach not recognizable in ‘one-sided’ story

Water polo coach's behaviour 'taken completely out of context'

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to an article that was published about water polo coach Justin Mitchell [Coach banned, Langley Advance Times, April 26].

I play basketball at UFV and was a water polo player for over five years with the Abbotsford Whalers, Fraser Valley Water Polo Club, and National Development Centre under coach Mitchell.

To me, the article is completely one sided and written about things that have been taken completely out of context.

My brother and I played under coach Mitchell for a number of years.

I have played many sports and have had dozens of coaches over the years, and can honestly say that Justin has been my favourite coach. From his sense of humour, to his understanding of me as a person, to the way he coached and challenged me as an athlete, I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of his coaching style.

Justin challenges and demands his athletes to be the best that they can be.

Are coaches now not allowed to yell and be demanding with their athletes?

I was fine with a coach yelling and demanding action from me, and I know many of my other teammates with thicker skin were fine with it, too. In fact, we loved it, because he always got the most out of us.

To me, the word “berating” that is used in this article is coming from someone or some people who simply shouldn’t be playing a high level of competitive sport.

Justin never “berated,” but demanded and challenged – and yes, he raised his voice when doing so, just as hundreds and thousands of other coaches across all sports do.

The article says that witnesses, “most of whom were teenaged athletes at the time of the incidents, testified about interactions with Mitchell that sometimes left them in tears.”

Everyone has different experiences, and mine clearly was. I looked forward to water polo practices, and always left the pool with a smile on my face, and this was largely because Justin made practices a fun environment to be a part of.

However, you wouldn’t know that by the way this article is written.

Justin was always putting a smile on people’s faces, always got the most out of his athletes (and this is proven in the amount of scholarships that have been given to his players over the years), but most importantly, he would do anything for the betterment of his athletes, not only as players, but as people.

This article depicts Justin as someone I have never known him to be.

Newspapers shouldn’t be able to write one-sided stories. My entire time spent as an athlete of Justin’s was nothing but positive, and I know the majority of Justin’s athletes would feel the same way.

Taylor Claggett, Abbotsford

Langley Times