Our coaches in high school asked a lot of us. The football coach asked kids to play with mangled body parts, asked them to lift weights that badly stunted their growth and asked them to ignore the ridiculousness of the polyester maroon pants that he'd wear on game days. In lacrosse we were mostly just asked to not mention that there wasn't a single Saturday morning practice presided over by a coach that wasn't hungover. Thankfully neither coach ever asked one of the players for their hand in marriage.
Not so at South Brunswick High in North Carolina. One member of their track and field team had to be willing to go the extra mile for their coach. It wasn't enough for Windy Hager to run fast, jump high or anything else, she had to agree to be his wife as well. That's a lot to ask of a 16-year old girl.
During Windy's freshman year, her 38-year-old track coach, Brenton Wuchae, began taking a more active interest in her, offering to give the 14-year-old rides home from practice. "He just seemed like a genuine guy, like he was there for the kids," said Windy's father, Dennis Hager.
But the Hagers eventually grew uneasy. Their phone bills showed text messages between Wuchae and Windy as late as 2 a.m. They also discovered worrying e-mails. In one, Windy wrote to a friend, "I don't care to look at anyone other than him. He is the apple of my eye, I've never felt this way for someone, but I just don't want to lose him because of my parents' power trips."
Those damn parents with their power trips. Clean your room, eat your vegetables, don't get romantically involved with the track coach who is 25 years older than you. Mad with power or not the Hagers relented when their daughter asked them for a favor.
Meanwhile, the Hagers say Windy withdrew, refusing to speak to them until she asked them to sign a consent form so that she and her coach — a man more than twice her age — could get married.
Although anguished, her weary parents gave in.
The happy couple was married on Monday and started their honeymoon by tendering Wuchae's resignation from the school. Why didn't the school act earlier when the Hagers complained that the middle-aged coach was romancing their teen daughter?
"School officials can't be responsible for what happens the other hours of the day, and I would think the relationship developed much more outside of school," said Brian Shaw, an attorney for the school district.
That's one way of looking at it. Another way would be to say that their relationship started at the school and that the school is responsible for keeping underage women out of romantic entanglements with their teachers and coaches. We've all heard stories about the South and their somewhat more lenient view of the age of consent but this is really pushing the envelope for what's right under any circumstances. We're getting more in favor of home schooling any potential daughters with every passing day.