Adios Bitches, Gets U.S. Field Hockey Coach Fired

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An Olympic coach who wrote, “Adios bitches” as his signoff in an email letter to members of the U.S. women's Under-21 field hockey team was recently fired. Junior national field hockey team coach Nick Conway was let go after taking the team to a bronze medal at the Pan American Junior Championships, and securing a berth in the 2013 Junior World Cup.

"I am absolutely delighted with the result," said Conway. "This group of players has committed a lot to prepare to be here, missing the most challenging time of year from their collegiate programs. They've worn the jersey with pride, and I am thrilled to pieces with the success that these players have earned this tournament and for all the families and friends who traveled to Guadalajara and followed from home. We've achieved what we came for and for that we will go home delighted."

Phil Hersh, in his The Chicago Tribune coverage, pointed out that USA Field Hockey waited until Conway and the team were back from Mexico to fire him.

“Our USA Field Hockey counsel has advised us that our path of allowing Conway to coach this team, in association with a team of highly competent associate coaches, with very serious restrictions applied was our best route,” [USA Field Hockey Executive Director Steven] Locke wrote in the Sept. 13 email, which did not specify the restrictions.

However, a person well versed in USOC governance said a Section 9 complaint can be heard and adjudicated in 24 hours, if necessary.

“The information I had was it would have been very difficult to fulfill that time frame,” Locke said Monday.

USA Field Hockey would have had to find a coach within 24 hours, had Conway been sacked before the team took off for Guadalajara. Complicating the situation, most of the best candidates were already coaching other teams during the United States domestic season. Apparently the team was polled prior to the tournament on the situation.

The Tribune obtained copies of Conway's original correspondence as well as an email apology from the coach, who was named women’s national team assistant coach in December, 2011 and filled that role at the London Olympics.  Prior to that, he had been the men’s national team head coach for six years. Before joining USA Field Hockey, Conway was a part of the University of North Carolina’s coaching staff for eight seasons. As a Tar Heel assistant – and later, an associate head coach – he helped direct Carolina to NCAA titles in 1995, 1996 and 1997.

The original email

Hi Everyone,

I'm absolutely delighted to announce that dual Olympian Rachel Dawson will be joining the u21 management team for the Junior Pan American Championships in a video technology and coaching capacity.

This completes our management team following the recent departure of Katelyn Nerbonne from USA Field Hockey (Katelyn was originally in position as the video support staff).

Manager:  Dingo (Beijing 2008)
Head Coach:  Nick (London 2012)
Assistant Coach:  Shellie (Beijing 2008)
Video Coach:  Rachel (Beijing 2008, London 2012)
Trainer:  Katie (London 2012)

We are a stronger staff for the addition of Rachel Dawson.  If you don't already now Rach, you guys will absolutely love her.

Welcome Rach, you will love this group.  They have a unique fun loving energy that I know you will thrive on.

Safe travels to everyone on Saturday / Sunday.

Adios bitches,

Nick.

 

And Conway's full apology

Hi Everyone,

Please accept my most sincere and absolute apologies for the sign off in my email from earlier today regarding the addition of Rachel Dawson to the u21 management team.

My intent with this sign off was to reference some moments of hilarity within our group from our training camp together in Maryland, August 16-22.  It was an attempt to have you giggle to yourself, to provide a mild piece of levity and most importantly to connect our group ahead of our approaching tournament.  It was a reference to the gift that you most graciously gave to me on the final morning following the conclusion of the training camp.

It is clear that this commentary without context is inappropriate and causes offense.  If this commentary caused you any offense whatsoever I sincerely and unreservedly apologize.  Please understand that that was never my intention.  My singular goal is to assist our u21 team with qualification to the Junior World Cup and I would never deliberately jeopardize this objective.

Once again, my apologies, to everyone.  

Sincerely yours,

Nick.

 

It doesn't sound like Conway was being disrespectful in any way or trying to be rude or abusive. According to Wikipedia, the range of meanings for "bitch" has expanded in modern usage and the term has different meanings ranging from offensive to endearing. In the context of modern feminism, "bitch" has varied reappropriated meanings that may connote a strong female (anti-stereotype of weak submissive woman), cunning (equal to males in mental guile), or else it may be used as a tongue-in cheek backhanded compliment for someone who has excelled in an achievement.

While Conway's use of the term bitch may have been insensitive, should it have been the basis for being fired?

@jschonb
dare to dream
Also online at prettytough.com and womentalksports.com

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