Judy Brown didn't want to come forward as the investigation of Mountain View football coach Bernie Busken unfurled around her. She worried that her daughter, Briley, would be mistreated by her Mountain View classmates.
But after two days of soul-searching, Brown produced a type-written letter that was among the most damaging pieces of evidence against Busken.
In a letter dated April 12, 2001, Brown detailed a meeting in which Busken called her son, Wyatt, a quitter for choosing academics over athletics.
Brown also said in the letter that Busken told her, “If he had a dad it would be different.”
Wyatt's father had left the family after 26 years of marriage.
When Brown told Busken that she and Wyatt had prayed about the decision, she said that Busken replied, “Praying, that is a bunch of bunk. You just pray for what you want. You will lose all your friends and you will be letting everyone down. This is a decision you will regret for the rest of your life. You will be a quitter.”
Brown, a teacher at Burk Elementary School in Gilbert, said that after her letter was printed in the Tribune, some Busken supporters told her she didn't know what she was talking about.
“They said, ‘You have to be firm to make him into a man,’ ” Brown recalled. “They told me the football team would never be the same.
“It was a hard time. For one thing, no one wants to make waves or change the program. No one wants to have everything in their private life out in the open. I really didn't want to tell my private life, yet I felt like there was a need to do it.”
Any misgivings Brown might have had were erased when she received a letter from Wyatt, who is in Guatemala on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Somehow he had found out I had come forward,” Brown said. “I thought maybe he wouldn't have wanted me to make waves.
“But he made me feel really good. He said, ‘Mom, I've learned what's right is right no matter where you are. You have to stand up for what's right. You did the right thing.’ ''
Wyatt told his mother something else:
“I'm proud of you.”
Nathan Peper, Derek Swanson and Scotty Romans were among the players who came forward to complain about coach Bernie Busken's coaching methods.
Their thoughts, a year later:
Nathan Peper: “Some of the guys were real mad just because they were so loyal to Coach Busken. But I think Mountain View proved last year it's not all about the coach. It's more about the people playing and enjoying what they are doing.”
Derek Swanson: “My parents were Coach Busken's biggest supporter until I finally came clean with them. They were shocked. What went on in football practice didn't come home.
“It taught me a lot when Coach (Tom) Joseph came in and smoked everybody. You don't have to be a violent person and rape the kids with words to win.”
Scotty Romans: “I don't have any regrets at all. A lot of other guys wanted to come forward before me, but they didn't know who else would be behind them to support them if they did that. I know a lot of older players thought we were weenies and didn't know what we were talking about. I didn't care. Obviously, something right was done.”