Track team copes after arrest of coach


Principal Cheryl Lawton and assistant track coaches sought to assure parents and students shaken by the recent arrest of head coach Greg Marshall, who is accused of sexually assaulting two underage students in the mid-2000s. Marshall, a prominent figure in the Bay Area track scene, would have started his third season with Branham’s track team. He was arrested on Jan. 25 after allegations surfaced from when he coached at Valley Christian. He’s been placed on unpaid leave while the investigation is under way. Instead of hitting the field to start off the season, several dozen students and parents met in a portable near the field to ask questions about the transition. Practice has continued under the supervision of the other coaches. Lawton also told athletes that therapy services would be available for them on campus. The district has already begun looking for a replacement head coach. Students are encouraged to contact Detective Mike O’Grady or Detective Sgt. Sean Pierce of the San Jose Police Department at 408-537-1397 if they have any information regarding the investigation.

Annalise Freimarck, Managing Editor

Shocked. Disgusted. Disappointed.

These were the reactions that the track and field coaches and athletes felt once they found out that head coach Gregory Marshall was accused of sexual assault with two minors.

Marshall was arrested on Jan. 24 at his house following accusations of 24 counts of sexual assault with two minors that took place during his tenure as a track coach at Valley Christian High School in 2004 and 2005.

At Valley Christian, the accusations surfaced when the alleged incidents occurred, but Marshall was never charged and continued his career in his personal training company. Marshall remains on unpaid leave while the case is under investigation.

Following his arrest, the Branham community was shocked. Those in the track community had never suspected that an allegation like this would surface. Principal Cheryl Lawton broke the news to students via email the day of the arrest, and the following week the track team held a meeting to address any concerns. Administration offered therapy services to the athletes.

Track athletes had trained with him for the two years he was at Branham, and throughout that time, he had formed close relationships with them, spending many hours training and working with the athletes. He owns a personal training company, Marshall Sports Performance and Fitness, and he often trained athletes outside of the school season in his personal gym at his home.

One Branham track athlete who trained with him privately was surprised when she heard news of the allegations.

“I never imagined anything like this would have come from him,” she said. “I’ve always respected him and for this to come out, (I was) very shocked.”

Assistant coaches in the program, such as pole vault coach Jim Lawrence, worked closely with Marshall and shared the same feelings of shock and repulsion as the athletes.

“That’s obviously disgusting and horrible for our sports, our coaches in general,” Lawrence said. “I have two daughters, so I can’t even imagine that even happening.”

Another anonymous track athlete, who had previously trained with him in and outside of the season, came to trust him through the coach and athlete bond they had.

“He did a lot for me and my teammates,” she said. “If someone was hungry, he would feed us. “He was kind of like father figure; [he was] very well respected.”

Because of the bonds he formed with the athletes, she said it was difficult for her to replace the image of a coach they had in their head with that of an alleged criminal.

“It’s really hard to vilify someone who is trusted and respected so much,” she continued, while stressing the need to acknowledge his alleged victims.

“I like to respect people that come forward about that stuff, of course, but I couldn’t help being like, ‘oh, what if it’s not true?’” she continued. “[That] made me feel weird, because I don’t think I’m that kind of person. I like to stand with victims.”

Former Branham track athlete Adam Saleh advises athletes to not let this stop them in their athletic career.

“I hope other athletes that are aspiring to continue track at a higher level don’t see this as a roadblock,” Saleh said.

In order to move on and recover as a team, coaches encourage practice to go on as normal. The current coaches

“This is just their way of life, training hard and going to meets,” Lawrence said. “They’re just staying with their same routine.”