Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

Before you spring for private lessons…

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…think of one Don Y. Kawamoto, pictured at four o’clock, who allegedly has touched the lives of  young tennis players in south suburbs of Indianapolis. And I don’t mean that in a good way. From The Indianapolis Star:

Greenwood police say more victims could come forward in their investigation of a former high school tennis coach accused of inappropriately touching teenage girls. …

Police say Kawamoto, a long-time private instructor who was fired as the boys tennis coach at Greenwood High School last month, has assaulted more victims. …

bildePolice say Kawamoto was instructing students on how to hold a tennis racket or how to serve a tennis ball and then would place his hand on the girls’ breasts during the assaults.

All of the incidents took place during private lessons in a detached indoor practice facility at Greenwood High School, 615 W. Smith Valley Road, according to police.

The first victim, a 15-year-old Southport High School student, said Kawamoto touched her on two occasions on Jan. 1 and Jan. 2 during private tennis lessons.

During that investigation, Kawamoto admitted to touching the girl intentionally for his own sexual pleasure and that he had touched students in the past for his own sexual gratification.

And the story goes on to say that after Kawamoto’s Jan. 14 arrest, a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old told police he had touched them on occasions too numerous to remember an exact count.

As was told repeatedly in my how-not-to-molest-children class taught by the Catholic Church, an adult coach should NEVER be alone with a child, for two reasons. One, bad stuff can happen because no one is looking. Two, if Kawamato is indeed innocent — which he technically is because he hasn’t been convicted of anything — he placed himself in a vulnerable position by having no witnesses around to refute the girls’ tales.

One-on-one, intensive private lessons can be a great thing, whether you’re signing up your child to learn how to pitch a softball or how to speak French.  But if you have no assurances there are going to be other adults or activity around, I would insist as a parent on being able to stay and watch the lesson as a condition of forking over my fee. If a coach gives you a hard time about it — “Your child will be nervous with you watching,” etc. — find another tutor. And tell everyone you know what happened.

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