Two high school basketball teams are now without guidance and little answers after Ryan Towner, former boys basketball coach at Shadow Hills high school was arrested on suspicion of six counts of sexual assault against a minor in 2017. After the news broke, it had some student-athletes, like incoming senior and co-captain of the Knights’ girls basketball team, Adonai Oudinarath questioning every interaction they had with Towner.
“I’ve never felt in danger with my coaches, but when I think about the interactions that I’ve had with Towner, I think like, that is so crazy because I could have been any of the girls on my team, any of my teammates, anybody in the basketball community, like it, makes me very anxious to think about that type of situation.”
Students had been hearing rumors for weeks about their coaches being let go and when Desert Sands Unified School District released a press statement to the media making it official, Adonai suspected it was because of the allegations against Towner.
“We just lost our first-round playoff game, at the end, my coach said ‘I’m probably not going to be here anymore with you guys, I’m most likely going to be fired.’ It makes me sad that our coaches are grouped together in that same basket as him (Towner) even though they have nothing to do with that.”
However, since then, Adonai and her mother, Renee says that Shadow Hills high school has been uncooperative with their parents and students, by not providing any answers or resources.
“I think the parents on both sides are very frustrated that we haven’t gotten any communication from the high school. The high school is unwilling to listen to what our concerns are, they knew the pending storm, and that they did not put resources in place to help my daughter who is a leader on her team, weather the incoming storm. It makes me question whether or not I want my children to be at a school that does not look at what’s best for my child.”
Even when concerned parents showed up Monday morning to the high school to express their concerns directly, Renee says that they were met with security guards asking them to leave without an answer.
“We went to voice our concerns at Shadow Hills high school and were turned away with security. And they refuse to answer both the boy’s and girl’s parents, there were nine of us. We later went to the district right after that meeting and we were able to sit down with people at the district level that did listen to the list of our concerns had we left the meeting feeling like those concerns would be addressed, at least at the district level.”
Despite what the parents and students of Shadow Hills are going through, Renee explains that the Coachella Valley sports community has come together to help them weather this storm.
“The people who are in the sports community are doing nothing but keeping their arms open to help us in any way we need, and that’s been a blessing that the community itself, especially the basketball community, is sticking together to make sure that we can weather the storm as one.”
With no coaches, no answers, and not even a gym to practice in over the summer, these student-athletes like Adonai have taken it upon themselves to stick together and keep fighting.
“We’re just trying to stick together and keep in contact and keep each other informed, but we’re all still very upset from what is going on. Like it’s very much a shock to us.”