“We Were Silenced”: Roanoke Swimmers, Part 3

Roanoke College Swim Captain Bailey Gallagher, explaining the emotional manipulation she endured at the hands of school administrators. (screenshot/WSLS YouTube page)

by Scott Dreyer

As reported in Parts One and Two, ten members of the Roanoke College women’s swim team held an “NCAA — Save Women’s Sports!” press conference on October 5 at Hotel Roanoke, to draw attention to what they described as “emotional blackmail” and “neglect” at the hands of their school administrators, NCAA, and Swim USA.

Although huge headlines seldom spring from our corner of Southwest Virginia, this story has made national and international news. The New York Post, established in 1801 by Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, described the significance of the swimmers’ actions this way: “The very public aspect of Thursday’s event was in sharp contrast to the culture of fear and silence surrounding the issue of trans women in women’s sports.

“When The Post interviewed female swimmers who had to compete against Lia Thomas for an April 2022 story, the majority of parents and their daughters would not allow their names to be used in the story for fear of being shunned, shamed or even retaliated against.

“’This was a historic day,’ activist Kara Dansky, president of the US chapter of Women’s Declaration International, told The Post after speaking at Thursday’s press conference.”

Roanoke College women’s swim team (front row) and supporters at press conference at Hotel Roanoke, Oct. 5, 2023 (photo/Scott Dreyer)

Senior Team Captain Bailey Gallagher, 20, summarized the lifelong love of the sport all the girls alluded to but how they all felt blindsided. “I’ve been a swimmer my entire life, when my parents enrolled me in a ‘learn to swim’ program as an infant, and I have been swimming ever since. My first competition was at age 5, and now at almost 21, I see my journey coming to a close.

“This is my senior year, my final year to practice, race, and celebrate with teammates that I now consider to be some of my best friends. Swimming is more than just a sport for me. It’s a part of who I am. It has given me discipline, the ability to multitask, a great work ethic, a healthy lifestyle, and some of the very best people to call friends.

“I never expected to be blindsided by a teammate from the men’s team wanting to compete directly against me and my teammates on the women’s team. When the news broke, I was stunned, as were most of the women on the team.

“I could not eat, could not sleep, and spent a lot of time dealing with anxiety, concerned with how this was going to get resolved. World Aquatics policy protects the Olympians. Where’s the NCAA and USA Swimming? Why are they not protecting the rest of us? (…)

“Over the course of the following weeks we were expected to attend our classes and learn, attend practices and perform well, and attend no less than one meeting, six days a week, to discuss this situation.

“During these weeks, not a day went by that I did not feel physically ill. It was hard to even function because every moment I had was being consumed with what I was supposed to accept as the ‘new normal,’ a ‘normal’ that I never agreed to be a part of.

“For the first time I considered quitting something that I had loved doing my whole life. I wanted to leave the school I referred to as ‘my second home.’ It took me a little while, but I came to the realization: ‘this is not me. I am not the problem.’

“Throughout the last month, the women’s team and I have felt manipulated, helpless, angry, confused, upset, guilted, and most importantly, unheard. The early meetings I attended were not productive. We listened, we spoke, and then quickly learned it was not okay to speak our mind.

“We were somehow ‘wrong’ in our feelings. After those meetings, I would feel as though my words were manipulated, my feelings cast aside, and I believed that my voice had made no difference. Even worse, the voice of every almost every single woman on my team did not matter, because there was only one person’s who did. We were silenced. Where was our right to be considered? Where was our right to be seen as valuable, and most importantly, where was our right to compete fairly?

“How many young women will have to be beaten out by a male, or even have to watch their friends beaten out, before ‘enough is enough’? (…) I will continue to fight for the little girl who is learning to swim right now.”

The third Captain, Kate Pearson, spoke next. “The sport defines who I am, and has gifted me with endless challenges, opportunities, close friends, and an overall passion for doing what I love. I have felt many feelings throughout my years of swimming, such as determination, joy, disappointment, nervousness, admiration, and excitement. But when I was told that a biological male would be swimming on the women’s team, all of my emotions turned to fear.

“Last year our women’s swim team ended their remarkable season with a second place finish in the ODAC Conference. This was attainable due to the hard work, motivation, and grit we all collectively put in season long. We were approaching this year hoping to achieve what we had previously accomplished, and even more. But when the team was informed of the issue that would end up fully consuming us, all these motivational factors went right down the drain. Our experience was an emotional rollercoaster that I never want any young girl or woman to ever go on, or deal with. That is why I am standing here today.

“Multiple teammates, even I, have said how these last five weeks have ‘felt like years.’ The team was put through demoralizing and exhausting meetings, day after day, for the result to be that we were not heard.”

The Roanoke Star has reached out to Roanoke College President Dr. Frank Shushok, Athletic Director Curtis Campbell, Swim Coach Brandon Ress, and the alumni association for their statements or perspectives. Director Campbell responded by emailing the official school press release that the school sent out before the press conference; that statement essentially shifted blame to the NCAA. No responses have been received from the others.

Republished with permission from The Roanoke Star. 

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12 responses to ““We Were Silenced”: Roanoke Swimmers, Part 3”

  1. Good for these strong willed women to stand up and say for all to hear, “[We’re] as mad as hell and we’re not going to take this anymore!” [to paraphrase a famous movie character].

    Go forth and prosper in your life — swimming has taught each of you very well.

  2. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Wait. Renee Richards? We’ve had fifty years. Not to mention the East German Olympic women’s weightlifters.

  3. Teddy007 Avatar

    Roanoke College is a Division III program which means no scholarships. Considering that Roanoke College admits 80% of applicants, there is little for the school to offer athletes other than being a continuation of being on the high school team. Who cares about such a program.

    1. walter smith Avatar
      walter smith

      Oh…so because these young women aren’t elite and are therefore doing it maybe for the love of the activity, they should let a guy cheat them out of fair competition?
      Maybe because it is for actual love of the sport and not because of lost endorsements, they are willing to stand up.
      Go post your Marxist claptrap elsewhere. This is insane and too few are willing to say it. Takes a lot of bravery to parrot the repeated propaganda and run down actual bravery from young people.

      1. Teddy007 Avatar

        Thank you for the surrender with the use of conservative memes instead of actually addressing the issue. How does one transwomen being on the team really effect the other members. Div III does not give scholarships. Many Division III athletes do not participate all four years, and having a transwoman on the team affects the admission or team participation of no one.

        A better question, instead of repeating mindless memes, is to ask what is the NCAA’s rules, what are the current TItle IX rules, and what does the case law says. Have we already forgotten that a transstudent won a federal lawsuit against a government in Virginia. How much does Roanoke College want to spend on lawyers in a probably losing effort?

        Conservative are suppose to think in terms of cost-benefit analysis. Try it some time.

        1. walter smith Avatar
          walter smith

          Teddy – do you identify as a someone with a cervix or not? Do you have a cervix possessing child? Do you want your cervix possessing child in bathrooms with penis possessing post-pubescent children and men? Is your cervix possessing child entitled to any desire for modesty and privacy or must she (sorry for the pronoun microaggression) surrender her rights to someone who has a mental problem.
          Now let’s address the athletics issue – it is not fair. It is cheating for a guy to steal from the accomplishments of the women athletes.
          How many sexes are there? Can you answer that difficult question?
          And the NCAA rules are brain dead. So is the federal court ruling (Judges are human. Leftist judges may be human, but are also political hacks, maybe even in service of demonic forces, devoid of common sense and any understanding of natural law…because godless). And Title IX was meant to protect women. Not fake women. If fake women are real women, then there is/was no need for Title IX and there is no such thing as the LGB part…

          You might want to try the thinking bit yourself…

          1. Teddy007 Avatar

            The bathroom issue is a red herring since there is no one at the door checking to see who has or does not have a cervix. Transwomen use the women’s restrooms today. This falls into the hairy butt argument concerning homosexual males from years past.

            Once again, what is the standard for a transwoman to participate in women’s sports. Lia Thomas complied with all of the regulations that existed at the time that she made it to the NCAA finals. What are the Title IX regulations concern trans athletes.

            And refusing to acknowledge existing rules or that even if trans individuals exist does not help one make one’s case. And actually Title IX was meant to protect everyone and just not women. Look it up.

          2. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            Let’s try again, sex-denier.
            How many sexes are there?
            Do men (real men) have physical advantages in typical sports over women (real women)? Is it fair?
            I don’t care about the NCAA “rules.” They are stupid. They are politically correct. They are morally wrong. They are unfair. I am protesting the insanity.
            Then why do all the women cite Title IX and the growth of women’s sports? Sounds like it was meant to level the playing field. And I am not saying that was necessarily wise.
            And the women who complain about the dude being sexually aroused while pretending to be a girl is a red herring….. Seriously, do you have a daughter? Something is terribly wrong with you. (Assuming you are a guy. You know, a real guy. Testosterone, kibbles and bits, etc

          3. Teddy007 Avatar

            Thank you for the surrender with the use of insults. It shows everyone how weak you consider your arguments. And one really shows weakness when one says that someone is morally wrong.
            Title IX actually address facets of education. People just remember it as affect women’s sports.
            But keep up the insults, it makes one look so thoughtful and well reasoned.

          4. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            I did not insult you, unless trying to ascertain if you are male or female is an insult.
            Are you the father of girls? The mother of girls? I guess not.
            Now, back to reality, reality-denier. How many sexes are there?
            Care to answer the biology questions as to men’s physical abilities vs women? You don’t and won’t. (By the way, you were the one who said what I had posted was devoid of thinking. All I see from you is deflection, because you cannot defend what is obvious to anyone not brainwashed or evil.)

          5. Teddy007 Avatar

            The reality deniers are those who claim that trans individuals do not exist, that they have not been using the restroom of their socially expressed gender, or that somehow that one can pass a rule to make them go away. As long as the athlete complies with the current rules, they can do what they want.

          6. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            How many sexes are there?
            Can you count that high?
            No one denies that transgenders exist. Nice try.
            Maybe a argument should be had on whether it is proper for doctors to perform such surgeries. Are they moral? Do they violate the Hippocratic Oath? Where does first do no harm fit in this debate?

            But meanwhile, reality denier, no one is arguing with over whether the cheating is permitted. It is. And it is still wrong. Insane.

            So, why not read Part 4, which just got posted. Are you denying these girls’ (real girls!) lived experiences? Misogynist! (See how easy it is to play the Lefty games back at you?)

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