Five years ago, former USTA Northern President Jeff Baill gathered a group of Northern staff and board members, teaching professionals and junior parents to discuss how to keep all players engaged in the sport of tennis safe after recent negative situations and events that had taken place in sports across the country. After much conversation, the group felt USTA Northern needed to be more proactive in further developing and enhancing existing policies to promote positive experiences. The group asked for more in terms of educating all constituents in the area of what they termed SafeSport, ultimately asking USTA Northern to develop a training component and a zero-tolerance policy when violations did occur. Finally, the group wanted a plan on how to communicate these enhancements to players, coaches, pros, providers and junior parents.
We talked to a number of similar organizations to see what they were doing in promoting SafeSport, eventually finding that Minnesota Hockey had a good start on these initiatives. After asking for input and advice, we soon formed a task force which began working in earnest on how to make tennis safer for all those involved.
The end result is our newly published SafeSport Handbook, which was approved by the USTA Northern Board of Directors earlier this year and is now available by clicking here or in hard copy form by calling the USTA Northern office at (952) 887-5001.
The Handbook contains policies and procedure in how to deal with various cases of abuse – including sexual, physical and emotional violations, as well as bullying, threatening behavior and hazing. The new policies bring to light areas where this misconduct can occur including the rapidly growing area of social media and electronic communications. It also addresses reporting abuse concerns and the processes used for investigating allegations, while recognizing and respecting the importance of confidentiality. USTA Northern has engaged the services of an experienced investigator, who also works with Minnesota Hockey and USA Hockey in the same capacity. Lastly, it describes the consequences when violations of the policies happen.
To report an incident, click here.
By combining all of these elements into a comprehensive program, USTA Northern intends to reduce the risk of potential abuse and create the safest possible environment for everyone involved in the game. In recent months, we have put the zero-tolerance philosophy into action and have followed the processes described in the Handbook. We know they work, and will continue with training, communicating and reducing circumstances for potential abuse in the future.
For more information about the USTA Northern SafeSport Policy, please contact Becky Cantellano at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (952) 358-3284.