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Starving For A Win Ex-athlete with eating disorder successfully sues coach

April 05, 2004
April 05, 2004

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April 5, 2004

Baseball Preview 2004

Starving For A Win Ex-athlete with eating disorder successfully sues coach

Edited by Mark Bechtel and Sridhar Pappu

His detractors say he screamed, broke clipboards and called the
girls on his basketball team "faggots." But what transformed
Daniel Hussong from a controversial high school coach into a
legal precedent was his suggesting to a player, in a 1995 meeting
at Windsor-Plainsboro High in Princeton Junction, N.J., that she
lose weight. Jennifer Besler, who was then 5'8" and 165 pounds,
says the advice led to her developing an eating disorder and that
she eventually lost so much muscle mass that she had to quit the
soccer team at Richmond. Last week a jury awarded Besler, 25,
$1.47 million in damages. (Her father, Philip, received $100,000
because he had been gaveled into silence at a 1997 school board
meeting at which he had tried to complain.) Besler, a health-care
consultant, says her case is about the power that coaches have
over kids. "If he had told me to lose 10 pounds to look better in
my prom dress, it would have been one thing. But he said it would
make me faster, a better player. And that's what I wanted."
Hussong, who no longer coaches at the school, is considering an
appeal.

This is an article from the April 5, 2004 issue

TWO COLOR PHOTOS: MICHAEL MANCUSO--THE TIMES OF TRENTON/AP (2) WEIGHT WATCHER Hussong (right) told Besler (above) she needed todrop 10 pounds.