This can be super quick, but there’s a girl on my team who is starting to try to bully other girls off the team. I’m one of the captains, and there’s a girl who’s a sophomore who is very dedicated to the team and the sport but recently has had a lot of other obligations. She still makes it to practice when she can and works her butt off when she does. This second girl thinks that since the sophomore isn’t coming to practice as often as she is, that she “doesn’t deserve to be on the team and might as well never come back because I don’t want to see you at practice again.” This is obviously not OK. I’m worried to approach the girl because I’m sure she’ll twist my words and go back to the coach. I’m worried to approach the coach, because I think she’ll probably tell me that it’s my responsibility to make sure the sophomore is at practice. Am I making way too big of a deal over this? I haven’t been captain for very long, and I’m obviously new to this whole “team responsibility” thing.
Take one of the other captains with you and approach this girl together. This protects whichever one of you does the talking because the other one can corroborate what’s being said in case the rower does go back to the coach and try to twist things (just make sure you don’t gang up on her or anything like that). Make it clear to her that she needs to chill and recognize the fact that she’s negating whatever work she’s doing at practice by having such a shitty attitude. Unless she knows something that no one else does about why the other girl is missing practice (i.e. something that puts her or someone else in danger, reflects poorly on the team, etc.) then why she isn’t there is really none of her business and it’s not her place to be making the comments she’s made.
If your coach’s kneejerk reaction is to tell you to get on someone about their attendance instead of addressing the bullying issue then his/her priorities are way off base. Obviously you want attendance to be high all year round but it’s not like it’s any major secret that if you absolutely have to miss practice for other commitments then winter is the time to do it. Half the people I rowed with in high school swam or played basketball and typically missed that entire “season” or people would take some time off to study for the SAT/ACT if they registered for the Dec/Jan/Feb tests. It’s not the end of the world if someone has other obligations from November to March.
At the very least I would say something to give them a heads up that you’re planning on talking to that girl just in case she comes to them afterwards and says something. If you’re worried you might inadvertently throw the sophomore under the bus if you say the real reason for all this then just say that you’ve been approached about [whatshername] making some bullying-like comments towards some of the other rowers and you and [the other captain] are planning to talk with her about it but you wanted to let them know what was going on beforehand in case something gets back to them later. If they ask what the “bullying-like comments” are just say you don’t know the specifics but are planning to find out before you talk to her.