The former head coach of the University of South Alabama (USA) women’s volleyball team has been hit with sexual harassment allegations and other serious charges.
Another victim has accused Alexis Meeks-Rydell of physical and psychological abuse, bringing the total number of accusers to nine.
In the new complaint, former USA student-athlete Cassadi Colbert alleged that Meeks-Rydell convened “breakfast clubs” where players would be instructed “to run and do other physical drills” early in the morning until they vomited or passed out from exhaustion.
According to court documents, the practice caused Colbert extreme stress, anxiety, and distress. Colbert said Meeks-Rydell also behaved inappropriately, engaging in unwanted physical touching, such as forced hugging and pinching students’ buttocks.
The Plaintiffs claim that USA Athletic Director Joel Erdmann and former volleyball assistants Rob Chilcoat and Patricia Gandalfo were aware of the situation but did not intervene. The university declined to comment on the addition of Colbert’s lawsuit.
Rachael DeMarcus and Alexis Silver are former athletes who filed a similar lawsuit last August against Meeks-Rydell. It was later amended to include six other USA alumni.
The initial complaint said the ex-head coach allegedly enforced “a climate of fear and intimidation” among the team. She would overtrain her players and force them to play or practice through injuries.
“Plaintiffs’ athletic and academic aspirations were negatively, severely and irreparably impacted, damaged and ruined by the misconduct,” according to the complaint.
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Russell Wilson quarterback coach Jake Heaps joins Broncos QB in Denver
PARKER, Colo. – On Thursday morning, Jake Heaps spent four hours on the radio airwaves in Seattle, wrapping up his final day as the co-host of a mid-day sports show.
Less than 24 hours later, he found himself walking between fields among roughly 500 campers at Colorado’s Chaparral High School, in the market he’ll be building the next phase of his career and life in.
Heaps hopped on a plane to get to the greater Denver area for the first of what will be many Russell Wilson Passing Academy camps, having worked with Wilson, the Broncos’ new star quarterback, for the past five years.
Heaps, a Washington native who played quarterback for BYU, Kansas and Miami (Fla.) in college and who spent parts of three offseasons on NFL rosters, will continue to be involved in Wilson’s Passing Academy but also will serve as Wilson’s full-time, private quarterback coach.
“We’ve been doing stuff in the offseason and all that, but with him moving to Denver – for me, my home base was Seattle, so everything was just kind of worked out and it was nice and in sync. But I think to do what we want to accomplish and for Russell, what he wants to accomplish in his career over the next 10 years here in Denver, there’s a lot of things we wanted to do not only for him and his career but for the Denver community from a training aspect and all that,” Heaps told USA TODAY Sports on Friday. “It’s a big change for me personally, but I’m excited to jump two feet in and to work with him super closely and do whatever I can to be at his best.
“That’s what it’s really about.”
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Heaps and Wilson first crossed paths when Heaps spent an offseason on the Seahawks roster and then part of the 2016 campaign on the franchise’s practice squad.
“I was on and off the roster for two years and we really just connected through the work,” Heaps said. “He saw how hard I worked. I tried to beat him to the facility every day and we grew a bond through that. I got a random phone call from (Wilson) asking to fly out and come train him at UCLA and said sure. We’ve been together ever since. It’s been really cool to have that friendship and to have that trust that he has in me and have honest conversations and to evaluate his game and do whatever I can to help him be better. Whether that’s making things that he’s struggled with better or just maintaining what he’s doing.
“He’s one of the best in the world, so it’s not like you’re wholesale trying to change everything every year, it’s just trying to make him 1% better every year and find ways where he can be better and stay sharp and be on top of things.”
Wilson, of course, is learning a new offense in Denver under first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who has made it clear that the playbook building has been a collaborative effort between the offensive staff and the quarterback.
The system, though, is at least somewhat familiar to Wilson because he played for offensive coordinator Shane Waldron last fall in Seattle after Waldron coached the previous four years with the Los Angeles Rams under head coach Sean McVay. Hackett, meanwhile, spent the past three years with another member of that McVay and Kyle Shanahan coaching tree in Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur.
“There’s a lot of mental aspects of what you’ve got to work on and make sure (Wilson’s) sharp on the new plays and new aspects of the playbook, testing him and quizzing him and all those things,” Heaps said. … “There’s familiarity there, but it’s been really cool to watch everybody work together to mesh this thing and make everyone comfortable from the coaching staff to Russell to the guys on the team. It’s been really awesome and, honestly, I’m blown away from where they are at this point in the offseason with the install and where everybody’s at.”
Before the offseason program began, Wilson hosted the Broncos’ wide receivers plus center Lloyd Cushenberry at his home in Southern California to get several days’ worth of work in and build chemistry. The quarterback said recently they’ll be reconvening again next month before Denver’s training camp begins July 27.
“We’ll let guys get away. We’ve been going for 2.5 months now, it feels like, so we’ll let the guys get away, spend family time, do whatever they need to do, travel, whatever it is,” Wilson said. “The last couple weeks we’ll really spend some time before we come back. We’ll spend some quality time down in Southern California.”
Wilson, like a few other top-tier quarterbacks, has built an operation around himself that is designed to help him excel despite all the time spent away from the facility. One week, between a Thursday OTA practice and a Tuesday practice, Wilson and his wife Ciara traveled to the Monaco Grand Prix and back. On another off weekend, he flew to Dartmouth College, the alma mater of his late father and several other family members, to give a commencement address. A couple weeks before that, he was at a Seattle Children’s Hospital event on an off-day.
Joked teammate Melvin Gordon: “When you’re making $30-some million a year, you can private jet around wherever you want. He’s all about football, though, man. He’s locked in. There’s no other way to put it.”
Wilson, for his part, described the importance of the people around him.
“Having an amazing team, my performance team comes with me everywhere I go. My assistant helps with everything,” he said last week. “Everybody’s super organized so there’s never wasted space, and I think that’s the key thing. There’s never wasted space.”
Heaps is a full-time member of that team now. He’ll be in California for the offseason training sessions and then back in Denver to help Wilson get ready for the regular season. Simultaneously, he’ll be part of the group that works to build out the RWPA camps, develop more high-end quarterback training opportunities here and continue to broaden the way Wilson’s presence is felt in Denver.
“He wants to be great. He already is great, but what he wants to accomplish over the second half of his career, he wants it to be special and I think he has the ability to do that in Denver,” Heaps said. “This organization has been fantastic from Day One with him and the guys have been fantastic. Obviously, this is the honeymoon phase and everything is great, everything’s special, but I truly believe that they’ve got what it takes to really make some noise and accomplish the goals that they all have.”
Sis Wins Gold Medal With USA Volleyball at Pan American Cup – GoCreighton.com
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Tulsa, Oklahoma, medical center shooting: Police identify victims, gunman. What we know. – USA TODAY
A gunman who fatally shot four people at Tulsa, Oklahoma, medical center targeted a doctor he blamed for the pain he was in after recent back surgery, police said Thursday.
Tulsa Police Department Chief Wendell Franklin identified the four people killed in Wednesday’s mass shooting as Dr. Preston Phillips, 59, Dr. Stephanie Husen, 48, Amanda Glenn, 40, and William Love, 73. Franklin said the gunman, identified as Michael Louis, recently had surgery and targeted Phillips, who performed the surgery.
“We also have a letter on the suspect, which made it clear that he came in with the intent to kill Dr. Phillips and anyone who got in his way,” Franklin said. “He blamed Dr. Phillips for the ongoing pain following the surgery.”
Franklin said the gunman, who died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, used two recently purchased firearms, including an AR-15-style rifle, in the Wednesday afternoon shooting at the St. Francis Health System campus.
Wednesday’s attack comes after high-profile shooting massacres in Buffalo, New York, where 10 Black people were killed, and Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two teachers were killed in May. President Joe Biden will address the nation Thursday night on the series of recent mass shootings and ramp up his call for Congress to pass “common sense” gun reform measures.
‘SENSELESS ACT OF VIOLENCE AND HATRED’:At least 5 dead, including suspect, in Tulsa medical center shooting
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Here’s what we know about the deadly shooting in Tulsa:
The victims of the shooting included two physicians, a receptionist and a patient, Franklin said Thursday. Police identified the victims as Dr. Preston Phillips, Dr. Stephanie Husen, Amanda Glenn and William Love.
The first victim officers found later died at the hospital. Officers soon found two more victim’s bodies: one next to the suspect, who had died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, and another in an open area near a nurse’s station, Franklin said.
As police searched the building, they found Phillips dead in an exam room.
Phillips was an orthopedic surgeon with an interest in spinal surgery and joint reconstruction, according to a profile on the clinic’s website. He once served as lead physician for Tulsa’s WNBA team before the franchise moved out of state, according to the Tulsa World.
A DOCTOR WHO LOVED JAZZ, A MOTHER OF 2:What we know about the Tulsa shooting victims
Cliff Robertson, president and CEO of the Saint Francis Health System, called Phillips “a man who we should all strive to emulate.” Robertson said Phillips’ clinic often didn’t run exactly on time because “he will spend every minute with patients that he need,” seeing the work as his calling.
Husen, a sports and internal medicine specialist with the Warren Clinic in Tulsa, graduated from the Oklahoma State University-Center for Health Services medical school in 2000 and completed her residency at Greenville Memorial Hospital in South Carolina. Robertson also called Husen “an incredible person.”
Amanda Glenn, who was a receptionist for the offices at the medical clinic, and William Love, who was there with a patient, were also killed in the shooting. Glenn, a wife and the mother of two teenaged sons, Glenn was a fan of University of Oklahoma football and St. Louis Cardinals baseball, according to her Facebook.
“It is the ultimate loss for St. Francis and Tulsa,” Robertson said. “The three best people in the entire world that are the most committed to doing what they do every day and taking care of others and didn’t deserve to die like that.”
Officials said there were “additional wounded patients” but did not provide more information about their conditions.
Franklin said during a news conference Thursday that Phillips performed back surgery on the gunman on May 19. After the shooter was released May 24, he called multiple times over several days complaining of pain and seeking additional treatment.
The gunman purchased a a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol, from a pawn shop on Sunday. Two days later, the gunman saw Phillips for additional treatment.
Wednesday, the shooter called Phillips saying he was still having back pain. At 2 p.m. the same day, he purchased a semi-automatic AR-15-style rifle.
Franklin said police received the first 911 call about the shooting at 4:52 p.m. Wednesday from a person who was video chatting with a doctor in the building. Police received several more 911 calls about a shooting on the second floor of the Natalie Building on the campus of St. Francis Hospital.
Franklin said the first officer arrived four minutes after the first call was received.Officers announced their presence and heard a final gunshot at 4:58 p.m.
Law enforcement then searched the building, looking for victims and survivors. At 5:24 p.m. the Cherokee County Sheriff’s office called his department to report that a woman called their dispatcher saying her husband had killed several people at Phillips’ office, Franklin said.
Law enforcement remained at the scene until 3 a.m. Police said 30 .223-caliber casings from the rifle and seven .40-caliber casings from the handgun were found at the scene.
Police said the gunman targeted Phillips, who had recently performed back surgery on him, but also “began firing at anyone who was in his way” when he entered the hospital. Franklin said a letter found on the suspect made it clear the gunman “blamed” Phillips for his continued back pain although the office was “receptive and responsive” to his complaints.
“There was clear motive. This was what he planned to do,” Franklin said. “That letter led us and told us the story.”
TULSA SHOOTER BLAMED DOCTOR:Then shot ‘anyone who got in his way,’ police say
VIOLENT IDENTITY:Why do mass shootings keep happening? Because this is what we’ve allowed America to become, USA TODAY Editorial member writes.
Tulsa Police Department Deputy Chief Eric Dalgleish said officers discovered the shooter and several victims on the second floor of the St. Francis Health System’s Natalie Building, about eight miles southeast of downtown Tulsa.
The Natalie Building houses an outpatient surgery center and a breast health center. Dalgleish said an orthopedic clinic also is located on the second floor.
The building is a five story medical office with numerous offices, rooms and hallways that create a “exceedingly complex environment” for offices in a tactical situation, Franklin said.
The entire hospital locked down its campus Wednesday during the shooting.
An Oklahoma Highway Patrol bomb squad used dogs to clear a home in Muskogee after police were notified the hospital shooter may have left a bomb inside, the Muskogee Police public information officer said.
“No devices were found,” Lynn Hamlin said.
Tulsa police investigators arrived after that search “and took over the scene,” she said. Muskogee is about 50 miles southeast of Tulsa.
Community members waited to hear from their loved ones at the designated reunification area after the shooting Wednesday night.
Kevin Foristal, of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, said his wife was receiving outpatient therapy at the infusion center in the main hospital building at the time of the shooting.
He was “elated” to hear she was safe, but added: “There’s people out there where that’s not going to happen.”
Johnnie Munn arrived at the reunification site Wednesday night to help provide food, water and emotional support. The Tulsa-area native specializes in mass shooting response for the Red Cross as a senior disaster program manager.
He’s attended to victims at the site of the deadliest U.S. mass shooting in Las Vegas in 2017, where 60 people were killed. This time, he responded to a fatal attack in his hometown.
“It’s surreal and aggravating,” Munn said. “You’re like, ‘Why?’ … It’s no surprise that it’s happening more often.”
DON’T FORGET THE VICTIMS:10 Black lives lost in Buffalo, New York, to racism and gun violence
Oklahoma State Medical Association President Dr. David Holden said in a statement the organization was heartbroken to learn of the loss of lives at the Tulsa hospital.
“Oklahoma’s hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices are places for healing and should be safe for all,” Holden said. “And while there will be much to discuss regarding this tragedy in the days and weeks to come, we stand with our fellow physicians and health professionals in mourning those who were killed and injured due to this devastating event.”
The United States has seen a number of high-profile shootings in recent weeks, including two massacres in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas.
Wednesday’s attack was the second mass shooting this week in Oklahoma alone: a woman was killed Sunday and seven others were injured during an annual Memorial Day festival in Taft, a small town near Muskogee, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation reported. The shooting suspect later turned himself in.
Since January, there have been 12 shootings where four or more people have been killed, according to The Associated Press/USA TODAY/Northeastern University mass killing database.
Those shootings have left 76 dead, including 31 adults and children in Buffalo and Texas, the database says. The death toll does not include the suspects in the shootings.
Contributing: Christine Fernando and Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY; Nolan Clay and Dana Branham, The Oklahoman; The Associated Press
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