I found out about Kaitlyn Byers story while listening to an episode of Guys We Fucked. She’d emailed the hosts to tell them about how, as a 17-year-old girl on a boy’s hockey team in Alberta, she had been sexually harassed and the league didn’t seem to give two fucks.
I got in touch with her and it sounded worse when she told the story aloud.
Kaitlyn told me she immediately felt like part of the family with her team. The boys were all buds and they accepted her. She was their bud too. It was great.
Acceptance didn’t reach far beyond them, though.
A boy on another team escalated from telling her he wanted to fuck her, to he was going to fuck her, to he was going to fuck her whether she wanted it or not.
Nothing was done. Why? No one heard him say anything besides her, Kaitlyn said was the response from the refs. She said the reason she got from the league was that they wouldn’t punish anyone for calling her a bitch, so how was this any different?
Well, he threatened to rape her, for one.
And he may have actually attempted to follow through on that threat. Kaitlyn told me that a few weeks later, the boy walked into her private change room at a rink he was not scheduled to play at. Her coach was in there with her at that moment, prepping her for the game, and the boy ran.
Kaitlyn said she knows violence is apart of hockey, so she didn’t think too much about it when the boy and his teammates were targeting her during a game a few months later. At least, she didn’t think about it until he shoved his stick under her ribs where she had no padding, then slammed her head into the ground.
Let’s pause for a moment. A girl—or woman, or really anyone for that matter—receives a rape threat and then is assaulted. Do you a) rejoice, b) make fun of her, or c) make sure she’s okay and reprimand the entitled jerk who thinks he has the right to do this to another human being?
I’d say c, whether or not it’s during a sports game.
According to Kaitlyn, for this dude’s team, the answer was a and b.
While she lay on her bench, screaming in pain every time she moved, she said the other team mocked her. Their parents cheered. Their coaches were yelling that she got what she deserved.
The paramedics showed up and were careful to not move her too much, afraid her broken rib would puncture her lung.
Kaitlyn recovered from the break and a concussion. But did she mentally recover?
I really can’t speak for her, but I can say that I sure as hell would have had a tough time. Each time I think about her story, I feel sick. Speaking with her on the phone, I wanted to cry. At that age, if I were her, I would have backed down.
Is she? Nope.
Kaitlyn approached the league again. They dismissed her complaint, saying that was the price of playing boy’s hockey. They made the incident seem like it was her fault for being a girl. However, when something similar happened to her in the next boy’s league she played in, the entire team of the offending player was kicked out.
So, is that the price of playing boy’s hockey? Or the price of grown ass adults not protecting children from sexual harassment, assault and violence? The answer is pretty clear to me. What about you?
I wrote another article about this for Cockroach, where you can read the story in her own words.
Published by Meg Crane