by Irvin Muchnick and Tim Joyce
Yesterday we reported that Marie Labosky, briefly an assistant swim coach at the Germantown Academy in Port Washington, Pennsylvania, and then at the Parkland Aquatic Club in Allentown, promised to have her lawyer contact us. That was her response to our questions, which we didn’t even get a chance to ask, about why she left those positions, and the coaching profession itself, to become a sales rep for Speedo swimsuits.
If and when Labosky’s legal mouthpiece gets in touch with us, perhaps we’ll all find out which part of reporting a misconduct allegation against her at Germantown, and asking for her comment on it, is deemed defamatory.
Meanwhile, let’s track the path of coaching royalty Labosky traversed in her short career.
Dick Shoulberg, Labosky’s former boss, is the patriarch of Germantown , which has produced many champions and Olympians. One of them, David Berkoff – now a USA Swimming vice president – is also among Shoulberg’s many character witnesses.
But in the denouement of Shoulberg’s 40-plus-year tenure, the moral grip has loosened for the national swimming figure who put himself over in committees as the courageous advocate of “zero tolerance” on sexual abuse. His legions of minions appear not to have noticed. With police investigating an extreme swimmer-on-swimmer hazing incident last fall, the Germantown administration marked Shoulberg for retirement, before pressure from alums brought him back to the pool deck for a year and a half as “coach emeritus.” In the fallout, the Philadelphia Inquirer found a minority faction willing to speak up about some of Shoulberg excesses and what the Inquirer article termed a “God complex.”
For a spell after her swimming career at the University of Notre Dame, Marie Labosky was both one of Shoulberg’s disciples and one of his assistant coaches. That job seems to have ended badly in early 2010. But in the way of the swimming world, nothing was said about why Labosky left. She was simply allowed to become someone else’s problem.
That someone else was Erik Posegay, head coach of Parkland, about 50 miles north. Labosky lasted seven months in Allentown. According to our sources, no particular incident precipitated her departure there. Rather, parents were upset when they learned why she had left Germantown. They were also upset that no one – not Shoulberg or Germantown , not USA Swimming – had clued anyone in.
(Germantown played similar bad-seed-dumping games with an ex-assistant named Joseph Weber, who was separated from the school in 1995 after pleading guilty to a charge of having sex with a 14-year-old girl. Weber served five years in prison before easing over to the Somerset , New Jersey, YMCA swimming program for six years. In 2012, upon discovering a slight flaw in its old background check, the Y fired him.)
Posegay himself left Allentown under murky circumstances six months after Labosky, in spring 2011. He moved to the famed North Baltimore Aquatic Club of coach Bob Bowman and his superstar Michael Phelps.
Posegay was the coach on deck in February 2012 during an incident later investigated by USA Swimming. In that one, a teen swimmer claimed two teammates made repeated, heinous, improper contact with him in the practice pool.
When the mother of the alleged victim complained, Posegay’s boss, Bowman, wrote to her, “We will not be held to your standard of moral superiority nor those of any other single member. NBAC is not a public school or institution. It is a private club whose members choose to join and participate and are also free to choose to join another organization if the program does not meet their personal needs.”