But, damn, look what it took to get there.
Earlier this summer, Canisius College cross-country runner Emily Scheck received a text message from her mother that turned her life upside down.
Her mother had found a picture of Sheck and the girl she was dating, and she was horrified by it. Her mother told her that she was disgusting, and that she had to make a choice: come home and get therapy for her same-sex attraction, or be cut out of their lives forever. Sheck let her mother rant, not knowing what to do.
“I really didn’t know how someone should respond to that,” Scheck told Outsports. Yet she knew she didn’t want to have anything to do with some kind of conversion therapy, and she wanted to stay at Canisius preparing with her cross-country team for the season ahead.
Not long after that she came home to a shocker: her car’s license plates had been removed, and her car was full of her childhood belongings from home — awards, plaques, stuffed animals. She had bought her own car, but because her parents were paying for the insurance they had rescinded the payments, her father had driven to Buffalo from their home near Rochester, N.Y., and taken the license plates. He had also removed all of her belongings from their home and stuffed them in her car.
With that came a message that she was never to speak to them or her siblings again.
Suddenly Scheck was left alone, without a family and without support. She had $20 to her name and was getting paid by her jobs every two weeks — she works both at the local Wegmans and has a work-study job on campus, just to stay alive.
She didn’t have a meal plan to rely on for food, and her parents had stuck her with a Discover Card bill of items the family had purchased on a recent vacation.
Her roommate set up a gofundme page to help Scheck get through her situation and that led to the inevitable knee-jerk reaction from the school and the NCAA.
That’s when someone at the school or the NCAA — Scheck isn’t quite sure — took notice. She said she was contacted by an NCAA compliance officer at Canisius College and told she had two options, per his communication with the NCAA: Return every penny and maintain her NCAA eligibility, or keep the money and leave the cross-country team.
Scheck, being a rational human being who realized that eating was more important than playing sports, chose door number two.
This, of course, is both unnecessarily cruel and borderline insane. We’re talking about a female cross-country runner at a small school. There are no commercial interests involved here, just concerned people trying to help someone whose life was turned upside down.
Then, again, amateurism. At least until the bad press started. Suddenly, there was fine print to be found.
Canisius College received clarification from the NCAA that Emily Scheck can retain her eligibility and continue to receive GoFundMe donations that assist her with living and educational expenses. The NCAA staff worked cooperatively with Canisius College to provide guidance that the fundraiser can continue, with school monitoring. NCAA rules allow a school to assist a student-athlete with a fundraiser after a significant life event occurs.
Canisius and the NCAA will continue to work together in support of Emily. She is a member of the Canisius family and we will to do whatever we can to assist her.
I’m glad shame worked in Scheck’s case, but these are awful people and we should never lose sight of that.