Former NCAA athletes are stepping forward and speaking out against Penn State trainers Jeff and Rachelle Thompson for their alleged emotional abuse and body shaming.
The story initially broke in April and since then, Rachelle has resigned. Now former gymnasts are trying to get her husband, Jeff to do the same.
In an interview with People, Penn State gymnast Shealyn Farley said, “There’s a difference between hard work and mental abuse… I don’t think that they should be allowed to coach women any more. Not only do I not want them to work at Penn State University, I don’t want them to work at any university, I don’t want them to work at any club gym, I don’t want them to work in coaching ever.”
The constant comments affected Farley so much, she attempted suicide.
“I was ready, 100% ready, to take the pills. I’d made my mind up, this is what I was doing. And two or three of my teammates came in the room and… they stopped me, obviously. They called my mom, who said, ‘That’s it, you’re done. You go in there tomorrow and you quit. You need help. We need to get you therapy and get you out of that toxic situation.’ ”
Body shaming in the United States is arguably becoming a growing concern, especially in women’s gymnastics, in particular. Those who were too afraid to reveal their identity to the media took to an online petition to express their support to investigate the Thompsons. There are now over 1,200 virtual signatures of the 1,000 goal.
In Rachelle’s May 19 email, the coach writes that her last day of work will be June 30.
“Over the last six years, I have wholeheartedly dedicated and offered all I have to give to every part of this program; however, it has recently become increasingly difficult for me to come to work each day with my normal passion,” she wrote. “As a result, I now find myself in a place I never imagined – walking away from a sport and a program that has meant the world to me.”