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article image16 Year Old Weds Her 40 Year Old Track Coach - "Where Did We Go Wrong?" Parents Ask

By Pamela Jean     Jun 24, 2007 in Lifestyle
No one is certain just how 16 year old Windy Hager's life got so off track. Her parents are heartbroken. The attraction between Windy and her coach, Brenton Wuchae, began 2 years ago. The late night text messages, the troubling e-mails. They've now wed.
The sorrow is evident within Dennis and Betty Hagar's hearts. Their 16 year old daughter "had her whole life ahead of her" they say, and now she has just thrown it all away by marrying her 40 year old track coach.
Windy was always running, according to her mother. Her greatest love was track and field. Having been named something as apropos as Windy seemed to just verify the destiny of her desire. She was always outside, always active.
2 years ago, at the age of 14, her parents began to suspect something wasn't quite right with Windy. The South Brunswick High School student was attracting a lot of attention from her 38 year old track coach, then aged 38. He started offering her rides home, and the relationship between student and coach seemed unusually close.
Initially, her parents just assumed Wuchae was a nice guy, that he was really their for the kids. Well, he was their for a kid, that kid turned out to be Windy.
Her parents noticed text messages being exchanged between the two as late as 2 a.m. They also discovered troubling e-mail messages from Windy to her friends. In one she wrote the following:
"I don't care to look at anyone other than him. He is the apple of my eye, I've never felt this way for someone, but I just don't want to lose him because of my parents' power trips."
The Hagers confronted the coach. He totally denied any inappropriate relationship with their daughter, and assured the Hagers that he and Windy were "just friends".
Still not believing that the things they were witnessing were within the guidelines of acceptable behavior between a student and a teacher, they discussed their worries with the High School Principal. His response?
The principal of the high school wrote to the Hagers, "I have seen nothing but a cooperative attitude from the teacher, and to the best of my knowledge, he has not had any contact with Windy since then."
The Hagers, still convinced that what was happening right before their eyes was wrong, contacted police. They tried to obtain a restraining order.
"We've tried everybody. We've been to the law. We've been to the school board," Betty said. "Our family has come and tried to talk to her. We've had people on the phone with her for hours — family, friends. We've been to our pastor asking for guidance. We've been to his pastor."
As her parents were frantically attempting to put a stop to the relationship that no one else would acknowledge, their daughter Windy began withdrawing from them. She finally told them that she would no longer speak to them unless they signed the consent form. A consent form allowing the now 16 year old teen to wed her 40 year old coach.
Windy's parents were in torment. They loved their daughter, they wanted the best for her. She was really just a child. A child in love with a grown man. What should they do? "Signing those consent forms was the hardest thing I did in my whole life, but we had to move on, it was going to kill us all," Dennis said.
The following Monday their beloved daughter wed Wuchae. Following the ceremony, the track coach resigned his position from South Brunswick High.
Did Windy possess experience and wisdom to realize if the decision to marry a man over twice her age was a smart one? Experts say it is a tough call.
"With most teenagers, they're not sure yet who's who and what's what and what should be done," said Henry Paul, author of the book "Is My Teenager OK?" "It's obviously up to the adult figure to set the boundaries."
Windy's parents felt that her refusal to speak to them left them with no choice other than to relent and allow her to wed. But, they feel that she has made a terrible mistake.
"She could have done anything," Betty said. "She could have set the world on fire. She threw it all away."
Windy and her new husband would not speak to reporters or issue any comments regarding their new marriage or the events that led up to it.
So, what would you do if your 16 year old daughter asked you to sign a consent form so she could marry a man this age? Would you relent, as Windy's parents did, or would you do anything and everything, including relocating to another state if need be, to keep them apart?
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