A cause for concern for cross country girls

Incidents of harassment lead to police involvement

Many+of+the+cross+country+girls+have+experienced+harassment+and+following+while+training+in+or+around+celebration+park.++

Courtesy of @LovejoyXCTF

Many of the cross country girls have experienced harassment and following while training in or around celebration park.

Some cross country girls recently experienced harassment and stalking from random boys or men in the area. It has occurred a couple of times in the past few weeks and the police were called on each of the occasions.

“I was stretching and there was this large group of guys were hanging near by and it looked like I was pushing a wall so they were joking about [that] but then they started laughing a lot,” junior Katherine Powell said. “I couldn’t really see them because my back was to them, and I heard them start joking about spanking me so I just started running again and then I remembered that my sister was behind me but I didn’t realize she was actually taking a different route so she didn’t ever actually [run into them]. I went back to try to warn her to stay away from them.”

However, it didn’t end there. Powell realized she was being followed.

“They started following me around and they said things like, ‘Oh, showing some skin’ even though I was wearing all of my clothes,” Powell said. “When I realized that they were following me I sped up and they started running after me really fast and saying that they were going to tackle me or whatever and so I just basically started running around looking for my sister.”

Powell then returned home and explained to her parents what happened. Her parents told cross country coach Greg Christensen what happened and then called the authorities.

It’s not the only time it has happened.

“We were running and there was this white truck that started following us, and there was some man inside and he has driving really slow next to us so we started running back to Celebration [Park] because we were almost there,” Gaccione said. “We ran back and he kept following us, so finally my coach called the police and [he] ended up following other girls on my team on their run, too. We need to run with our phones now in case something happens, so it scares us more now than it [used to], so now we are more aware.”

The police responded on this occasion within three minutes to the direct number, asked for a model of the car, the license plate, description of the man in the car, and then patrolled the area that the cross country team runs in. Greg Christensen and his team are taking precautions and discuss off campus running safety in order to create a safer running environment for students.

“Because we do the bulk of our training at Celebration, or in the nearby neighborhoods, we are constantly talking about being safe on the runs and running in groups,” cross country coach Greg Christensen said. “I take the safety of my team very seriously, and I feel we take precautions to enable them to get in the necessary work, yet in a safe and enjoyable place to run. We are in very close contact with the Allen PD. That being said, we can never be too safe, and I feel like we do a great job of being vigilant on our workouts. We cannot control what others may choose to do, but we can control the precautions we take for our safety.”