Kayla Watkins is 12. She plays hockey. On a team that’s otherwise all-boys. Or she did, until George Atis, a father of a male teammate who didn’t like her playing skills, bullied Kayla into quitting the team. Great job, douche.
“It is now 14 games into the season and I have noticed that Kayla’s play has not improved,” reads a team meeting agenda drafted by George Atis, a father of a player, but not a part of the coaching staff. “It is at the point where many of the team members do not want to play on this team if this situation is not addressed.” Atis, an attorney, included a whole section titled, “Kayla Watkins — Player Ability Limitations and Suggested Options.” And what did Atis recommend? The Toronto Star reports:
Atis then details two possible options for consideration, either moving Kayla from defence to forward and keeping her off of power plays and penalty kills, or playing her every second shift on defence and again keeping her off special teams “until her skating and shooting improves.” “If Kayla is NOT amenable to the above options, the coach should find Kayla a new team to play on — commensurate to her skill level — for the balance of the season,” the agenda reads. Atis also raised concerns about Kayla changing in the same locker-room as the boys, stating, “there have been many ‘near miss’ incidents where the boys have almost been exposed to Kayla.”
Did we mention Kayla and Atis’ son play for the Toronto Ice Dogs PeeWee “A” club, the lowest-level minor league team? As in, shouldn’t kids be playing to have fun? That’s what Kayla’s mom Vanessa wants to know: “Do we not put our kids in team sports to learn to be a team player, to win as a team, to lose as a team and it’s not about me, me, me?”
Not that Atis is backing down.
In an interview Monday, Atis defended the agenda, saying it voiced concerns from boys on the team who were both squeamish about undressing in front of Kayla and frustrated with her play on the ice. “I wrote the agenda, I stand by it,” said Atis, whose son Michael has played with Kayla for the past two seasons until her recent departure. “I lay the blame, if you must know, at the feet of Vanessa Watkins . . . If it was my child, he would have never been in that position because I would not have put him on a team where he was not competing and where he was a liability to the team.”
For the record, Kayla’s coach Paul Macchia, who selected her for his team, has her back: “There’s always complaints from parents about ice time but I’ve never seen an issue where it has gone this far before. I don’t know what they were trying to accomplish. It’s not an individual player losing a game. She made mistakes but so did others on the team. We’ve been the same since she left.”
So what happened with Kayla? After hearing about Atis’ meeting agenda, she quit — permanently. She’s now playing for the all-girls North York Storm, where “everyone’s nice to each other. It doesn’t matter if we win or lose. If we lose a game, it’s okay because everyone picks each other up.”
What can you do? For starters, link to this post on your own blog or Twitter, and include the words “George Atis douchebag.” So Mr. Atis has a friendly reminder of just what his behavior looks like. But honestly, the person I feel for the most, besides Kayla, is Atis’ son Michael, who has a shitturd for a dad.
[Kayla photo via Star; Atis photo via Facebook (profile since removed), via]