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Mark Wetzel, KSL TV

New site creates database of good, bad youth coaches

By Alex Cabrero, KSL TV | Posted - Jan 10th, 2019 @ 10:34am

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah man has created an online database of youth and amateur coaches that he hopes will keep children safe and better trained.

Bill Kerig has done a lot in his career. He’s a former pro skier, youth hockey coach, and he has created the website, that raises money for amateur athletes to fund their Olympic dreams.

“We raised millions of dollars on rallyme,” Kerig said from his Salt Lake City office. But it’s his latest project that just might be his most important.

“It’s a social network for the good, and for the good of youth and amateur sports,” Kerig said.

It’s called Basically, it’s a one-stop shop to find out who is coaching your kids.

“It’s the only realm, if you think about it, where we’re letting adults spend time with our kids, and right now it’s a pretty slipshod system as to who is trained and who has background checks,” Kerig said. “That’s the central question: Who is coaching my kid? Are they trained? Are they background checked?”

Youth sports are as competitive as ever and there are more traveling teams and more coaches on those teams. At the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns, there are several programs for children to get into, such as hockey and ice skating. Parents often drop off their kids to spend several hours with those coaches.

“In our programs here in our facility, we want the best coaches and we want to teach the fundamentals, make sports fun," Derek Parra said. "But with that, you have to have great coaches and that takes some research.”

Parra is the facilities manager of sports at the Utah Olympic Oval. He’s also a former Olympian who won the gold medal in speed skating during the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

Parra said youth sports have changed a lot since he was a kid growing up in California when his dad used to drop him off at a park for baseball practice.

“We didn’t know who these guys were. I’m sure my dad didn’t do any background check,” Parra said. “Now you’ve got travel soccer, club soccer, high school soccer with all these emerging teams that are traveling and the costs and everything like that, and you might not know who these people are.”

Workers at the Utah Olympic Oval do checks to make sure coaches are certified with clean backgrounds, and many sports leagues tied to cities and schools also do background and certification checks.

Kerig, though, hopes the website helps parents make better decisions about the coaches they trust to help their children. He said it’s meant to identify the good coaches and believes that “99.9 percent of coaches out there do it for the right reasons and are good people."

But the site can also be used to identify coaches who have been in trouble for one reason or another.

“We’re publishing a banned coaches list that’s the only aggregated banned coaches list in the country. All the sports. All the banned coaches,” Kerig said. ”If had existed when Larry Nassar was doing the terrible things he was doing, people would have known about it earlier.”

Nassar is the former USA Gymnastics doctor currently serving time for a sex abuse scandal that involved dozens of athletes.

Even though Kerig started 11 months ago, he’s hoping it will make a difference. But in the meantime, there is plenty of room for it to grow.

“In the end, I want to see every coach in the United States on this platform so that any parent can go and see who is coaching my kid,” he said.

Kerig is already talking to nine of the country’s 50 national governing bodies for sports and has been consulting with the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Alex Cabrero

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