Editor’s note: This article contains a racial term which may be deemed as derogatory to some readers. For this article an email interview was conducted with three former Saint Leo softball players. One source has asked to remain anonymous, thus she will be referred to as the unnamed former player throughout the article. The others will be referred to by their names.
One former student-athlete at Saint Leo offered her personal testimony about her experience with the SLU coaching staff. Amanda Patrick spent only her freshman year at Saint Leo before she transferred to continue playing college softball.
“Christi Wade without a doubt ruined my softball career,” Patrick said.
Wade is the former Women’s Associate Athletic Director and softball coach at Saint Leo University.
At the brink of numerous verbal and physical harassment allegations Wade has sent in her letter of resignation on March 2, according to The Lions’ Pride Online Saint Leo’s student newspaper. The final straw that ended her career at Saint Leo was her using a racial epithet against a team member.
“[Wade] called a player a lazy n—–,” unnamed former player said. Although acknowledging this is a terrible thing, the same SLU alumnae said, “Of all the things she has done over the years, this really does not seem half as bad as other things.”
Francis Reidy, Athletic Director at Saint Leo, said that he asked her to resign and she did so with no questions asked.
Although declining to go into detail, Reidy said, “We have some core values here at Saint Leo and she did something that was not in line with those values.”
The former player whom asked to remain anonymous drew a parallel to playing for coach Wade. “I imagine it to be similar to coming home to an abusive parent,” unnamed former player said.
Monique Dominguez added to this by saying, “My last three years I hated [Saint] Leo softball; I would call home crying on a weekly basis it was like mentally and emotionally draining with all her abusive words.”
Going to practice daily for the Lions was a nightmare. The members of the team had to guess her mood and plan accordingly. “One day she would be the happiest person and the next day you would have thought her world was crumbling down and she was taking it out on us, “the unnamed former player said. “It sucks going to practice everyday wondering if she is going to be in a good mood or if you made one error were you going to have to run the entire practice.”
Of the numerous violent acts committed by Wade, one of the most prevalent was when she physically put her hands upon one of her players. “Coach [Christi] Wade has been known to pick players up by their chest protectors and shake them while swearing at them,” the unnamed former player said.
Her assistant, and now the head coach at Saint Leo was anything but helpful. “I have a physical deformity on my face,” said Patrick. “[Fields] thought it might be a good idea to make fun of my eye multiple times in front of other players and then laugh like it was hilarious, when it was not at all [funny] to me.”
Another player confirmed the allegation. “Jana [Fields] and coach [Wade] would make fun of girls that were on the team,” said Dominguez.
The team has a time limit on its practices; the players have to sign off on the hours stating that they had not gone over the allotted time.
“Her assistant coach Jana Fields has the official paper work for our hours we have to sign off on complying with the amount she has written down. If one of us does not sign the hours, we were practically forced in there to do it, so they did not get in trouble for going over,” the unnamed former player said.
Patrick added to this allegation. “If we refused to sign them, then we practically were never going to see [playing time on] the field.”
Coach Fields said she had no comment on the contents of this article or the resignation of Christi Wade.
After a loss Dominguez described the teams punishment, “One time we even got locked in the van on a hot day because we lost; we could speak to each other, no radio, until she got out of her [bad] mood,” Dominguez said.
As a recruiter Wade was very good at convincing her potential players they were coming to play at a program based on strong, strict values.
“When I was recruited as a freshmen with a full ride to SLU I was told verbatim by coach Wade that she liked to recruit good people and turn them into great ball players,” the unnamed former player said. “We have a handbook that says this is absolutely no drug tolerance; there was major drug use going on by a multitude of ball players who tested positive a number of times. Coach Wade allowed players to test positive before dropping out of school for a semester to go to rehab then come back because she was a ‘homerun hitter’.”
Dominguez confirmed, “We had one girl on our team who tested dirty [for drugs] several times and coach let her come back after taking a semester off and play and made her team captain only because she hit home runs.”
On top of verbal and physical harassment, players also said Wade delivered false promises to the SLU team. “We had to work numerous Sundays in our off season at Raymond James Stadium concession stands in order to raise money for the team,” the unnamed former player said. “Supposedly, we were going to go to Hawaii. That never happened.”
The women’s softball team also earned side money (tips) while working the concession stands at Raymond James Stadium. “We had to give them straight to Jana or coach Wade,” said Patrick. “They were supposedly going to be split up at the end of the year between everyone, that also never happened.”
Wade also told the team that they would be awarded sweatpants for working an event. “We worked the kids Gasparilla parade and never received them,” Patrick said.
Saint Leo is in the Sunshine State Conference along with The University of Tampa Spartans. UT will host the Lions’ softball team on March 31 beginning a three-game conference set.
The opening line on Wade’s biography on Saint Leo’s athletic website states, “Hard work, honesty and integrity are the principles in which Christi Wade has lived by.”
“I am so glad my years with her are over. I am so glad she can not ruin the game of softball for future players,” the unnamed former player said.
They [the coaches] made us feel like worthless pieces of s—,” said Dominguez.
Kyle Bennett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.