Second Utah gymnast details ‘abusive and toxic environment’



Another University of Utah gymnast also criticized the team’s “abusive and toxic environment,” specifically naming coach Tom Farden as a source.

Kim Tessen, who competed for Utah from 2017 to 2020, said in a letter posted on Instagram Tuesday night that she suffered from “severe depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts” during her time with Utah. He said it was. Tessen wrote that Farden verbally attacked her, approached her every time she yelled, and made her feel physically unsafe.

According to Tessen, Farden also asked her to resign as team captain before her senior year, called her a “failure” and said she was not a true leader.

“absolutely there is nothing This in no way justifies abusive behavior,” Tessen wrote. “None of those coaching tactics are normal or healthy. It’s not normal or healthy for a coach to make you feel physically unsafe. You don’t feel like your life is worth living. It is neither normal nor healthy to experience such mental breakdowns. It is possible to succeed without being degraded or humiliated.”

Thessen’s post, which was named second team All-American on vault and uneven bars as a senior, came four days after Carla Eaker announced she would be retiring as a student at the University of Utah. Eaker, who won team gold medals at the 2018 and 2019 world championships and was a member of the U.S. team that competed as an alternate at the Tokyo Olympics, cited verbal abuse and emotional abuse by an unnamed coach and a lack of support from university officials. Ta.

Tessen said she wasn’t trying to compare what she experienced to Eaker’s trauma. But she said she hopes other gymnasts speaking out and sharing their stories will make it harder for schools to ignore allegations of abuse.

Last month, Husch Blackwell’s investigation into Mr Farden concluded that he “did not engage in any severe, widespread or egregious acts of mental or verbal abuse”. The report also said he “did not engage in any physical abuse, emotional abuse or harassment as defined by the SafeSport Code”.

However, Farden made at least one comment that Husch Blackwell investigators classified as degrading. There were other reports, but no confirmation could be obtained. Farden also “likely threw a stopwatch and cell phone in front of student-athletes in a fit of frustration,” the report said, but these incidents were isolated and not serious. It was not considered abuse.

Farden has coached at the University of Utah since 2011 and was named co-head coach in 2016. He has been the University of Utah’s sole head coach since 2020.

“We don’t have to beg to have our feelings acknowledged,” Tessen wrote in part in a post directed at “those who defend this behavior: coaching staffs, athletic departments, universities.” Ta.

“If you’re still going to do nothing about this, I hope you at least listen to the voices of those calling for change. Listen to the voices of survivors and take action against the harm they have done, are doing, and continue to do. I hope you realize this,” Tessen wrote. “I hope that one day we will realize that that is not the case, and that it never was.” Until now worth it. “

Utah State spokesman Paul Kirk said the school had no additional comment, instead pointing to what was said when the Husch-Blackwell report was released. At the time, the school said it would create a “performance improvement program” for Farden that would include proper communication training, but expressed support for Farden.

Follow Nancy Armor on X @nrarmour

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