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Since I was a freshman in high school I have always had a crush on one of my former coaches. This has been no secret to anyone who knows me and I am even positive that he knows as well. All throughout high school we have had a special relationship—a “Father and Daughter” relationship as he would describe it. But I’ve always been sure that there was something more unspoken between us.
For instance, during games or whenever we were in the same room he would always stare at me, although very discreetly. It’s the way that he stares sometimes. I can’t help but blush or shy away. Also, he would go out of his way to speak with me—interrupting conversations that I am having with others or finding ways to accommodate me. Often he would ask about my status with some of my male peers. And even after I graduated he let me know to email him to stay in contact so he’ll know how things are going with me.
One incident that stands out so vividly in my mind happened at my last volleyball game of my high school career. He was sitting way in the stands. I remained on the bench the entire game. Upset we lost the game and that I didn’t even get to play, I stormed out of the gym and into the nearest restroom. Just shortly after I went in a female teacher—who’s one of his closest friends—came in after me to let me know that he was standing outside the door and wanted to speak with me. (This teacher was also aware of my fondness for him.) I quickly pulled myself together and met him outside the door. The fact that he came after me and noticed my exit out of a gym meant a lot to me. He then talked to me and his face was just inches from mine. That’s when I heard “I love you to death..like a daughter, of course.” I’ve heard him call me his daughter before even though he’s white and I am African American. And I even heard him tell me that he loved me before, but when he spoke with me outside the restroom something about the way he spoke with me told me there was something more to it. Could I be wrong?
To this very day I visit the high school and the girls in the school’s volleyball program. The first person I notice is him when I walk through those doors. I notice that he notices me too but he tries not to seem phased by my presence. Sometimes he doesn’t even talk to me. He just holds conversations with other people and steals glances from a distance. Though we still email each other I can’t seem to understand why things may be so awkward for him.
Am I delusional? Can there be something more? Is this mutual attraction all in my head? Or can he be conflicted because he’s a teacher, coach, husband, and newly father.
Thanks for your question. We’re surprised we haven’t gotten a question like this before.
Relationships between coaches and players—or teachers and students—have clearly defined parameters. Coaches have to be very careful not to cross these parameters if they want to keep their job, or stay out of jail. We’re sure you’ve seen plenty of cases on the news of coaches losing sight of those very clear boundaries and ending up ruining their lives and the lives of all the people who love them.
From what you describe your instincts could be right. It’s possible there could be a mutual attraction. (But we don’t really know. We can only go by what you’re saying.) Players often have crushes on their coaches. They see someone who’s strong, confident, knowledgeable, and maybe even good looking and they start to fantasize about what it would be like to be in a relationship with this person. (Because those particular characteristics ARE attractive, especially to young women coached by an older guy.) And on the flipside, men see beautiful, athletic, young women running around in shorts and tee shirts and it’s only natural for them to recognize this beauty, and be attracted to it.
But it should NEVER go any further than that. It can’t. And if it does, that’s when trouble starts and lives get ruined.
Coaches especially need to be cognizant of the affect they might have on their players and not take advantage of this power. Although this happens all the time in our society. Think rock stars, artists, athletes, etc. But teachers and coaches, whom parents have entrusted with their children, have to be extra diligent about keeping to their clearly defined roles.
We can’t say whether or not he’s actually attracted to you, but it’s clear he’s fond of you. He says he thinks of you like a daughter, so we think you need to take him at his word. And OF COURSE the whole situation is awkward for him. He might care for you but he doesn’t want anyone to think he’s crossing the line, so he has to be guarded. And frankly, he has everything to lose by doing anything more than what he’s doing. He’s a husband and father and he needs to always keep that in mind as he carries himself in the world.
So Ash, it’s fine to have a crush on your coach but you need to leave it right where it is. We realize you really want to know if he also has feelings for you, but we think you need to put this aside and start focusing your energy on men your own age. And be happy you have a mentor/father who cares for you.
ps. Let your friends know about us. Thanks!