May 11, 2019

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Re: ‘Softball Players Detail Years of Mistreatment by Coach, Neglect by Cornell Athletics’

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To the editor:

We are writing today to express our support for head Coach Julie Farlow ’97, as alumni of the Cornell Softball program. In a recent article published in The Sun, Coach Farlow was characterized as a leader who lacked integrity and genuine concern for the emotional, mental and physical well being of her players. As alumni who have played for, played with, and worked alongside Coach Farlow over the 20 years of her involvement with Cornell softball, we find this characterization objectively false, and find that it runs counter to our own experience as members of the program.

The Cornell softball team has a long history of excellence and achievement both on and off the field. This history has been achieved by setting incredibly high standards for players. Striving to reach these standards, whether on the field, in the weight room or in the classroom, is difficult. In our experience, the coaching staff, and Coach Farlow in particular, worked tirelessly to set expectations high and also to hold us accountable to these standards. This meant pushing us beyond how hard we may have worked on our own. It also meant that inevitably, at times, we would fail.

Failing to reach a goal is disappointing, and as a young adult can be a very challenging experience. This is especially true for Cornell athletes, who’ve spent their young lives being successful, high achieving individuals. Players and coaches alike take failure hard. But even when Coach Farlow may have been disappointed when we fell short of our goals, we at no time felt personally attacked nor mistreated when we did not achieve. If anything, her shared experience as a student athlete at Cornell made her counsel and support more empathetic and genuine.

Coach Farlow fostered a safe and supportive environment that helped many of us process challenging experiences. Whether dealing with injury, academic challenges or personal difficulties in experiences too numerous to list here, Coach Farlow consistently provided to her players an outlet for meaningful support and advice from a leader who we felt genuinely cared for by her players. Love for the game may have brought us all together under the banner of Cornell softball, but at no time did we ever feel that softball was more important than our physical, emotional or mental health. This was a direct reflection of the culture cultivated and sustained by Coach Farlow. A culture and a program that never put softball ahead of any player’s well being.

Looking back, dealing with both the highs and lows of collegiate athletics was a transformative experience for each of us. An experience that taught us the value of hard work, gave us the joy that comes from reaching a goal, and also allowed us to develop the tools to handle the times we fell short of our goals. This would not have been possible without the leadership, guidance and genuine support from a committed coaching staff. Julie Farlow has a long demonstrated history as a leader of the highest caliber. A person with demonstrated integrity who has led by example. A Coach for whom we all have the utmost respect and appreciation.

We are disappointed to hear that any student athlete at Cornell has not felt they were fully supported during their collegiate career and we do not wish to dispute or discount their experience. Struggles with mental health and emotional well being should never be taken lightly. We fully acknowledge that discussing and meaningfully addressing these challenges in the settings of athletics can be difficult. We believe this is an ongoing issue that must be taken seriously by both the softball program, and the Cornell Athletic department. At no point do we feel that Coach Farlow neglected, discounted or downplayed our mental or physical health, but rather was genuinely concerned for our well-being.

Our primary desire is to acknowledge the numerous alumni of the program who have felt Coach Farlow was an integral and supportive figure to us during our time at Cornell. A Coach who pushed us to become both better athletes, and more importantly, women of resilience, integrity and sound character: these are qualities consistently demonstrated by Coach Julie Farlow during her long tenure with the Cornell softball team.

Cornell Softball alumni

Laura Capron (Steigerwalt) ’97

Stephanie (Riggins) Grise ’98

Wendy Fiel ’98

Julie Westbrock ’99

Natalie Capiro ’00

Kelly Olino ’00

Charlotte (Brombach) Orr ’01

Kristen Hricenak ’02

Drew Martin ’03

Erin Sweeney ’04

Sarah (Sterman) Ansell ’04

Melissa Walters ’04

Erin Kizer ’05

Lauren (May) D’Innocenzo ’05

Caitlin Warren ’06

Beth Price ’07

Lauren E. Battaglia ’07

Sarah Ruben ’07

Nicole Christopoulos ’07

Jennifer Meunier ’08

Adrienne Matta ’08

Jenna Campagnolo ’08

Samantha Hare ’08

Meg (Risica) Diaz ’09

Ashley Garvey ’10

Alyson Intihar ’10

Devon Wright (March) ’10

Vanessa Leonhard ’10

Alexandra Tomlinson ’11

Marissa (Amiraian) Reeves ’11

Elizabeth Dalrymple ’11

Erin Keene ’12

Erica Gaeta ’12

Morgan Cawley ’12

Jenna Grimshaw ’12

Lauren Marx ’12

Katie Watts ’12

Amy Couch ’12

Dayna Keene ’13

Kristen Towne ’13

Samantha Creamer ’14

Lauren Bucolo ’14

Samantha Briggs (Roth) ’14

Alyson Onyon ’14

JJ Briggs ’14

Sarah McCormack ’14

Clare Feely ’15

Leanne Iannucci ’16

Emily Weinberg ’16

Meg Parker ’16

Kimberly Scarsella ’16

Michiko McGivney ’17

Coach Bill Butler

Coach Stephanie Hartquist