Rene Portland wins basketball games. She brings out the basketball best in her players. She knows her craft. But is Rene Portland is a good coach?
A front-page story in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette takes an in-depth look at Portland's background, including her professional successes. She uses a “Mommy” approach to her team — monitoring their clothing, their social lives, their volunteer work and so forth. She's had players live with her family and drew in her own mother as the team granny.
She sounds like every overbearing mother I've ever met. She apparently obsesses more about her player's ladylike behavior than their grades (and their overall well-being). I suspect that like many control freaks, Rene believes that if they would just do it her way, happiness and success is bound to follow.
The story indicates that this is Portland's last warning; one more homophobic incident and she'll be terminated. Penn State is like the parent in the checkout line lecturing their child “I'm going to count to three …one …two … I really mean it … two and a half …don't push me … two and three quarters …” while the child in question gleefully continues to misbehave.
This serves to illustrate that Portland is not about following the rules; she's about following her rules. In her mind, Penn State administation should get out of the way and let her do her job. Non-discrimination language is fine, as long as it doesn't conflict with her way of doing things.
Portland's idea of “mothering” is more akin to Mommy Dearest than Mother Knows Best.
I'm not a coach, but I did run track in high-school for several years under a good coach who brought out the best I had to offer (Hello, Mr. Shar, wheverer you are). He set clear expectations, both for performance and behavior. But they were all related to the sport, not an attempt to regulate my entire existance. I was one of three women who lettered that year even though I had the lowest ranking on team. That letter means the world to me because it represents finding something important inside myself that I never knew was there. That came in handy when I had my big gay moment at age 29
Portland is an unabashed homophobe and all the sanctions in the world are not going to penetrate her nasty little mind. She doesn't belong at Penn State, period. Perhaps Liberty University is looking for a coach?
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