RFH Student Kate Sherman Participate in Open Forum with Basketball Coach Mike Rice

December 12th, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — December 11, 2013


RFH Student Kate Sherman Participates in

Open Forum with Basketball Coach Mike Rice


Expresses Her Opinion at Neptune-Based Event and

Hopes That Her Words Will “Make a Difference for Others”

RFH senior Kate Sherman recently participated in an open forum with Basketball Coach Mike Rice, who was fired from the Rutgers program in April 2013 for bullying behavior.


Rumson — The Central Jersey Chapter of GLSEN (Gay Straight and Lesbian Education Network) recently presented a unique opportunity to local students

GLSEN planned to host an open conversation between New Jersey students and former Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice on November 9. The forum would take place that morning at Hoops, a recreational basketball facility located in Neptune, and the TV news show “20/20″ planned to air segments of the conversation.

Local GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) Advisors were asked by GLSEN to put a clarion call out to their student members. One of these was Art Teacher Kate Okeson of Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School.

Would any of the students in her organization be willing to make the trip to Neptune and back early on a Saturday morning for the possibility of having a face to-face conversation with Rice?

As it turns out, she didn’t have to ask Kate Sherman twice.

“I thought it was terrific when I heard that Mike Rice had reached out to the GLSEN network,” said Sherman, a GSA member and senior at RFH. “I felt that he was making an honest effort, and that it was important for as many students from New Jersey as possible to show up and present their opinions.”

Rice was the Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Rutgers University in New Brunswick when footage aired by the ESPN Sports Network’s “Outside the Lines” program showed him throwing chairs at his players and assaulting them verbally with anti-gay slurs

The program aired on April 2, 2013, and caused a public outcry. Rice was fired the next day.

On the morning of November 9, the bleachers at Hoops were quickly filled with students from area high schools including Neptune High School, Monmouth Regional High School in Tinton Falls, and South Brunswick High School.

A crew filmed as Rice addressed the crowd, admitting that he had made a mistake and assuring them that he was dedicated to a course of improvement. He told the students that he was anxious to hear that they had to say, and asked if they had questions for him to answer.

“It was a really terrific group of kids,” said Sherman, who noted that a transgendered player on a male basketball team as well as a student government leader from a local high school were among those who spoke with Rice.

“Rice tried to explain that he used the language to get his players riled up, and both of those students noted that there are far more useful and less hurtful ways to get the job done,” said Sherman.

For her part, Sherman confronted Rice about shirking his responsibilities as a mentor and supporter of his players.

“I told him that by using the language that he did, and by acting in an abusive manner, he truly put his players in a difficult position,” said Sherman. “Coaches are supposed to be a source of support for their players, and his behavior put them between a rock and a hard place.”

Sherman noted that Rice listened intently to her opinion and seemed contrite about his actions.

“I explained that he risked alienating not only his players but a significant portion of the student body as well,” Sherman noted.

Although her segment did not air on the “20/20″ program, Sherman was buoyed by her experience.

“I applied my gut feelings to the situation, and realized that perhaps my words would make a difference for someone else,” she said. “How many seventeen-year-olds get the opportunity to do something like that?”

Sherman said she was grateful for the encouragement of GSA Advisor Okeson, who urged her to voice her true feelings at the forum.

“GSA has had a huge impact on my thinking, and I feel strongly about being an ally and believing that everyone is equal” she said. “I admire GSA for its support of the LGBT community, and I think that it could really be renamed the Human Equality Persistence Club.”

Okeson expressed admiration for Sherman’s attendance at the event, and for her astute comments.

“I believe in the power and directness of our youth speaking out on issues that affect them,” said Okeson. “I am grateful that Kate’s voice is one that contributed to the conversation.”

Sherman, who has been a member of GSA since her freshman year, also participates in the RFH Environmental Club. She is an accomplished flute player and a member of the Marching, Jazz, and Symphonic Bands at RFH.

A 17-year-old resident of Fair Haven, she plans to pursue the study of art.

Sherman is the daughter of Patricia Quigley and Todd Sherman.



Mary Ann Kampfe, RFHRHS Public Relations