Demons In the Den

By Jackson Taylor and Jared Chartrand

Grandview High School’s volleyball program has built a rich history in the 21 years since its first season in 1998. After back to back state championships in 2014 and 2015, Coach Patty Childress cemented her program as one of the best in the state. But as all good things do, Coach Childress’s career came to an end when she retired at the end of the 2015 season.

Following Coach Childress’s retirement, Coach Rob Graham became Grandview volleyball’s new headman for the 2016 season. Graham had coached at Ponderosa High School for 8 seasons before beginning his tenure with the Wolves, even helping Ponderosa win a state title in 2009. Although there were high hopes for the team with Graham taking over, the team has not lived up to expectations since his arrival.

“(Brian Peterson) hit me,” said Coverly. “ I almost fell out of my chair.”

At the end of the 2017-2018 season, the Wolves went into the pre-season looking forward to redeeming themselves after their first losing record in the school’s history. As the summer went on and tournaments were underway, the Wolves were not performing as well as they wished they would.

Then struck drama for the team as allegations of physical abuse between Coach Brian Peterson  and player Alyse Coverly at a summer tournament left them without an assistant coach.

“(Brian Peterson) hit me,” said Coverly. “ I almost fell out of my chair.”

“She didn’t want to show us how hard he hit her because it was ‘too hard’,” an anonymous source said.

Assistant Coach Brian Peterson has worked assisting Graham since he took over as head coach in 2016. He also coaches at Graham’s travel volleyball club, Elevation, outside of school.

“I can’t imagine it happened,” said Graham. “I obviously know the guy.”

The allegations at question have been supported by many teammates, but since the alleged situation wasn’t seen, no coaches can confirm nor deny the accusations. The allegations were especially shocking due to how close Coverly and Peterson appeared to be.

“He was hurt when the allegation was brought to his attention,” said Graham. “They did something like 60 private workouts.”

Coverly was very open about the allegations speaking her mind on the situation.

“I had multiple meetings with Coach Graham and Smock,” said Coverly. “A lot of them weren’t very productive.”

Regardless of the allegations regarding Mr.Peterson, he is still a coach at Elevation volleyball club(the one owned by Robert Graham), and a freshman assistant coach at Douglas County High School.

All attempts to reach Peterson for a comment on the allegations were unsuccessful. After the allegations were brought forward, Peterson resigned before the 2018 season.

“I felt my mental state went downhill because of the way the coaches were talking to me,” Enhky said.

As the allegations came into light, the team struggled, posting a school worst 10-13 record this season, but are the allegations the sole reason for the team's struggles?

We’ve scheduled some pretty tough opponents this year,” Assistant Coach Zahler said, “and quite a few untimely injuries.”

Grandview Volleyball does have a Top 5 strength of schedule for the state of Colorado, and have lost 3 players to injury this year, but the team also lost a starting senior for another reason.

Enkhsanaa Enkhbayer, known by her teammates as Enhky, quit the team because of conflicts with the coaching staff.

“I felt my mental state went downhill because of the way the coaches were talking to me,” Enhky said. “I left every game feeling like I was the reason we lost.”

Enhky was a senior and it was her first stint on the varsity squad.

Then new allegations of verbal abuse surfaced.

“She (one of the assistant coaches) called us (the team) p------s,” Enhky said.  

Enkhbayar believes that Graham encourages his assistant coaches to use hurtful comments as a way to make them “tougher”.

With all allegations aside, many parents and players have questioned the environment that Head Coach Graham brings to the team. Members of the team have stated their complaints against the Coach and feel like the root of the problem behind the poor season is in fact the poor chemistry between the head coach and the players.

An email chain from an anonymous source shows that parents had concerns about the coaches prior to the alleged incident of physical abuse. The messages show parents trying to sit down with administration about some concerns they had with coaches, but were unsuccessful in their attempts.

The complaints range from miscommunication to even moments of verbal abuse, all of which tie back to Graham.

“The way he coaches us is like he’s coaching boys,” varsity player, Jadyn Coleman said.

When Coleman was presented with the question what she meant by being coached like boys, she said that his methods and style of coaching was way harsher than it needed to be.

“This isn’t even coaching at this point,” said Enkhbayer.  “The environment (Graham) creates on the court is not okay and is completely detrimental to our game.”

In a team meeting during the summer, the team addressed the actions of the coaching staff. The team told the coaching staff that they were being too harsh, and the coaching staff said they are committed to change.

“It sucks because I still want to be playing,” said Ehnkbayer. “I love volleyball.”

“In the end, what coaches want is for our team to get better. The ultimate goal is to be a better person, a better volleyball player, and a better team, that’s all we want,” said Graham.  “But sometimes you have to yell- it’s a loud gym.”

“Some girls want to be pushed harder than others, so it will never be completely fair,” said Graham.

With allegations of both verbal and physical abuse, school officials stepped in. According to Dr. Roberts there were conversations with Peterson and Coverly to “hear their sides of the story.”

“There was a formal investigation,” Dr. Roberts said.

But due to confidentiality, the results of the investigation were unavailable to the public.

“Anytime there’s a rumor or an allegation, we are going to investigate,” Dr.Roberts said. “We haven’t heard anything prior to this season, but recently I’ve heard some rumors.”

According to both Dr.Roberts and Athletic Director Wes Smock, there is an ongoing investigation, but things will take a while.

The Grandview Volleyball program has its demons, some unsettled and some put to rest. All allegations addressed are alleged and are not yet proven to be true or false.The coaches and players have been more focused on volleyball than any allegations. 

The team ran through regionals during the first weekend in November, beating the odds and claiming their first state playoff berth in 3 seasons, showing that the allegations and chemistry didn't deter their path through the state tournament this weekend.

“It sucks because I still want to be playing,” said Ehnkbayer. “I love volleyball.”

3 comments

  1. Steve Solomon 12 November, 2018 at 20:24 Reply

    Just curious if one of writers are dating one of the players featured in this article. Also, were the team captains or other players who earned playing time consulted to confirm the information shared?

  2. Brian Fischer 12 November, 2018 at 20:26 Reply

    Please contact me about a couple teachers that I really dislike and are disrespectful to their students. I have many students who will back me up about how bad they are and an article needs to be written to expose them.

  3. A Parent 15 November, 2018 at 19:06 Reply

    I think this article really missed some of the real problems about the program. First, the volleyball program is not too hard on players, if anything they’re too light. These players are not treated like boys, they are treated like princesses. They do minimal conditioning and spend more time gossiping or eating than actually practicing. In fact, coaches will cancel practices. These players are not pushed in any way. Another thing worth mentioning is that all players including freshman and sophomore players almost always have club training. Grandview’s coaches are not training players. Varsity is fraught of talent. With three girls above 6’0, and amazing defense. They looked like an underdog team going into state, but trust me these girls are not underdogs, they just don’t have any discipline and don’t know how to work together. They had amazing stats but a terrible record. This was due to to the setters not being able to connect with hitters. A lot of this is due to how the coaches run their practices. They were not getting the right training to win state. The coaches are not too hard on players, they just don’t care.

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