As a former high school and college player, and now a current club team coach, Cat Bonitz figured she had the necessary background and qualifications to be an effective leader of young lacrosse players. 

“I thought I knew it all,” said Bonitz, a Maryland native who won an NCAA Division II championship as a member of Adelphi University’s 2010 women’s team.

That viewpoint changed drastically after she completed the U.S. SafeSport Training, provided for free to US Lacrosse members. The online course enhanced her understanding of abuse and shed new light on a personal relationship from her past.

During her high school lacrosse career, Bonitz began strength training at a local facility. Many of her teammates also did the same. During that training, Bonitz was flattered to be noticed by one of the college-aged assistant trainers, which eventually led to a physical relationship. It was months later before she discovered that he was doing the same thing with some of her other teammates.

“In my mind, that had always been a consensual relationship, but the SafeSport course helped me to view it differently,” she said. “The idea of him being older and in a position of power didn’t even cross my mind. Due to the power imbalance in the relationship, I now know this was completely inappropriate. The course stirred up some emotions for me.”

SafeSport helped Bonitz realize that what can seem to be very innocent may indeed be contrary.

“That information was so helpful because it made me realize how much I still had to learn,” Bonitz said. “It was really worth taking the time to go through the course.”

Bonitz said she considers the time spent taking the online training, about 90 minutes in total, to be time well spent. The course is divided into three modules: Mandatory Reporting; Sexual Misconduct Awareness Education; and Emotional and Physical Misconduct.

“The course was really easy to get through, and it seemed like the right amount of information,” she said. “I wasn’t excited about doing it initially, but ended up really glad that I did.”

The SafeSport training has already resulted in changes to Bonitz’s coaching of the young female players on her Baltimore-area club team.

“I’ve perked up a little more in my listening and pay more attention to what the girls tell me,” she said. “And I learned not to react big. Don’t get swept away emotionally in what I hear.

“This was so worth the time. It’s really important information that all coaches should know.”

SafeSport Program

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