WORCESTER (CBS) – For alumni players of the Holy Cross women’s basketball team it was “team together”. They came to the opening game of the season in a show of support for their former coach Bill Gibbons who voluntarily went on paid administrative leave last month while a harassment suit against him is investigated by the college.
“He thinks of all of us as his daughters. That’s why you see 40 alums coming together for coach, that says something itself,” said former player Laura Aloisi.
It’s the first time in 29 years Gibbons is not on the sidelines, being sued by former player 20-year-old Ashley Cooper who claims Gibbons would grab her, shake her, even strike her during two seasons on the Crusaders. At the team’s season opener, the former players stood for him and stood up for him while Gibbons is on leave as the suit is investigated.
“He was not physical at all. Passionate, yes, but not directed at players. He was passionate for the game and for coaching,” said former player Jeanette Paukert.
Cooper claims she was forced to leave Holy Cross and give up a full scholarship fearing retaliation for taking action. But parents of current players say it’s their daughters who are losing out. “We’re all wondering why he can’t still be here. Innocent until proven guilty, why can’t he still be with the team,” said parent Nancy Mifsud.
The suit also says that former players were so demoralized by the coach that they weren’t willing to return for alumni games. This group of alums say it only rallied them to come. “I am totally here for coach Gibbons, that’s my purpose,” said former player Andrea Tucker Jordan. “I knew I was going to drop everything to make the trip.”
They didn’t all play together, but they are now one team making their presence known since their coach can’t. “It’s very hard, but all of us together gives us spirit and hope,” said former player Kathleen Courtney.
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