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Aurora mom claims 15-year-old athlete's sexual orientation led to basketball suspension

Coach says there was no discrimination
Posted at 7:26 AM, May 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-14 09:39:07-04

DENVER — Three young teenage girls have been suspended from a club basketball team because of an allegation they were smoking marijuana in a hotel room while attending a tournament last month in Milwaukee.

The mother of one of those teens told Denver7 she thinks there's more to it.

Shandie Harris said her 15-year-old daughter received an email from her coach, suspending her and two teammates from any further practice or team activities, until the fact-finding is complete.

While the allegation involved the smell of marijuana in the the girl's hotel room, the fallout centered around the 15-year-old's sexual orientation.

"I don't know what his problem was," Harris said about Boulder Rockies Basketball Club Coach Johnnie Bratton, "but he brought up her sexuality."

Harris said her daughter, who asked that we not use her name, received an email from the coach suspending her from the team.

"I called him and confronted him," she said.

She also recorded the interview.

In the recording, the coach mentioned the smell of marijuana.

Harris immediately replied, "okay, do you want to test her, because I know she doesn't smoke."

She told Denver7 she was shocked when the conversation turned into one about sexual orientation.

Bratton relayed what he was told by another coach: "She said that your daughter has a desire to be with girls."

"So when is that your business?" Harris said.

"It's my business because it affects other players in this club," he said, adding, "because your daughter has been grooming and talking to the girls..."

The teenager, who was listening in on the conversation said, "I don't talk to them. I stayed in the room."

"To me it was hatred," Harris said.

"I feel he has something against me being gay and on his team," the daughter told Denver7, "but I felt, if he felt that way, he should have said it before I joined the team."

Bratton told Denver7 there was "nothing malintended," by what he said, and that if he "came across as accusing her daughter of anything, it's not true."

He told her the sports organization has a policy in place that prohibits the creation of an environment that puts other people in a position of discomfort by either their language, their actions, or their discussions.

Bratton said the fact-finding is not complete because of a cover-up.

Harris told Denver7 what the coach said about her daughter was harmful.

"Nowadays with suicide, and the way society is, that hurts your self esteem," she said.

She said she asked fellow players for statements and received a few in reply stating that her daughter was in her room for the most part and when she wasn't, she was eating with teammates or team bonding.

One wrote that her room smelled strong, but everyone and the assistant coach had already discovered that it was her soap that had a strong cologne scent.

The 15-year-old said she'll find another league team to play basketball.

Harris said she filed a complaint about the coach with the AAU.

Denver7 reached out to the AAU but hasn't heard back.

As more information is released, this story will be updated.