Coach Accused of Bullying

May 8, 2018

On Monday night, the Baldwinsville (N.Y.) school board heard complaints accusing its volleyball coach, Mary Jo Cerqua, of bullying. According to syracuse.com, two former members of Cerqua's team and a third who had been cut, along with parents, attended the meeting, as did supporters of Cerqua. 

The players have filed complaints against Cerqua under the state's Dignity for All Students Act, accusing Cerqua of belittling and humiliating them. Gary May, who has had three daughters participate in sports at Baldwinsville over the past 10 years, said one of his daughters wanted to leave the team because of the coach's actions.

"A change has to be made," May said. "I don't want her to be in this program."

Others in attendance disagreed. Gary Stewart, whose daughter is a former Baldwinsville student-athlete, said that while Cerqua was tough on her players, she did so to help them face challenges in life and in sports.

"What Brianna got out of the volleyball program, and what her coach made her, was a competent, physically and mentally driven person," he said. "In this day and age, I think a strong coach should be understood and supported by the parents and the athletic department. She strives to push her players and make them the best that they can be."

Cerqua has coached for 28 years, winning more than 500 matches, 20 sectional championships, and a pair of state titles. Superintendent Matt McDonald said the DASA complaints are being investigated and a decision on whether to renew Cerqua's contract will be made in the next few weeks.

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