Student: Coach Angie Wacker was 'my only bully in high school'
I cannot express the joy that overwhelmed me when I saw that first article about Oregon City High School equestrian coach Angie Wacker's ethics violations. It made me cry.
We have waited six long years, and this is the closest we've been to showing the world this woman's true colors. Angie was my only bully in high school who took everything from us in a split second, and I've seen her do it to dozens of other girls. After the events I'm about to tell you about, I moved in with my father, stopped riding horses, quit my job due to harassment, finished my online school and then moved back to Idaho.
In 2014, at age 16, I met Angie Wacker about a month into her coaching the Oregon City OHSET Team. About three weeks later my mother and I started going to practices to help with coaching. Everything was normal the first few months, but when it came time to choose teams, none of the girls were allowed to ride on the teams they wanted. Angie chose them based on speed and her daughter winning.
There were three teams: the A team which was the "best" and the team Angie's daughter, Alexa, was on; the B team, which was the backup for the A team, and if you even started to get close to the A team the best rider would be pulled and put on the D team, which consisted of all the girls Angie said were too slow and either didn't like, or rode horses she didn't like.
If she saw you struggling with a horse she would convince the parents to lease one of her horses. Charging them upward of $400 a month. If Angie wanted to have Alexa ride that horse for any event including the event you planned on doing with that horse, you would just have to forfeit that horse and find or lease another horse.
I heard her profanities and judgments on not only the girls, but also on the horses they rode and their families as a whole. She manipulated one girl into hating her own mother; another she tried to get expelled from school, fired from her job and actually called DHS on her.
By the end of the first season, Angie wanted me to be part of her team, and when Angie wants something, she will stop at nothing to get it.
I didn't want to ride on the team, since that past July 1, I collided with another rider at the Molalla Buckaroo, shattering my horse's shoulder and forcing me to put Sundance down. I was in no mental state to ride on another team.
Angie didn't care. Over the next summer, she pushed and harassed us to move back permanently and sign me up. I can't even count how many times I said "no" to this woman, and not only that, I had my mother asking me because Angie was pressuring her for an answer, and "no" was not an answer she was going to take.
I caved to her pressure in August 2015 out of annoyance and because we already were staying with a friend in the district. It worked perfectly for the first month until Angie offered up her home in Molalla, but this wouldn't work because I was online. I just needed a physical address in that district, and the family we were with wasn't comfortable with us using theirs and not living there.
Angie came up with a "great idea" to put down my aunt and uncle's address within Oregon City limits: "No one had to know." My mother and I felt uncomfortable, but Angie relentlessly insisted; she wanted me on that team. From there it was official. I was on the team but sent forth to lie to everyone who didn't know, and families did ask questions.
Beginning the second OHSET year in 2015, I was now officially a team member. I had started an account with the school, had an OCHS ID and even went to dances with the girls from the team, including Alexa, whom I drove and picked up from their house to take to the dance. Angie took our pictures.
At this point I saw Angie for what she was, or at least I thought I did. I felt like I was safe, and because my mom and I were in her back pocket, she liked us for now. For me the first few months were nice. The team (around 20 underage girls) went on numerous bonding trips to pumpkin patches (without any adult supervision), shopping, sleepovers, and I even participated in the school's Spirit Week Parade.
I had my own participant number and even wasted the money to have two shirts and an expensive jacket embroidered. I went to the penning event that McMinnville put on for the OHSET kids, as well as their winter gaming event, all as an Oregon City OHSET team member.
I was having a better time than I thought I would, but soon it came time for Drill Team tryouts and this is where my praised time with Angie began to decline. In October 2015, Angie asked me if I wanted to do OHSET drill. I had three years of experience running a full speed drill.
I respectfully declined, thinking that would be that, but, of course, it wasn't. She began sending Alexa my way to express how fun drill would be. I then had my mother begging me to do it, and every time I said no she would tell me, "Angie just really wants you on the drill team; she thinks you'll do great."
I told both my mother and Angie that I wasn't ready to relive the trauma over losing Sundance. I never got to process it fully. That answer still wasn't good enough. After about two weeks of constant harassment, an extremely heavy heart and tears in my eyes, I finally agreed to do it. Angie won.
Around this time the Wacker family had bought a tall, stout Appaloosa named Willie with a pretty wicked attitude when it came to anything near his hind end. We quickly learned to watch him; he would kick at students riding when Alexa would pass them in the arena.
For some reason, Angie relentlessly had Alexa ride Willie for drill even after he kicked three horses and almost nailed a kid at gaming practice. Numerous students, including myself, and parents expressed fear of riding close to him.
In the weeks leading up to my accident, Angie had so much evidence as to why her daughter shouldn't ride Willie in drill. We did way too many maneuvers coming too close to the horse's hind end.
On Feb. 1, 2016, the night of my accident, we went to Para Hevea to practice in a bigger arena than Angie's. Angie could not be there to supervise the drill practice, so she sent her husband, Kevin Wacker. As we began getting ready to ride, I stopped Kevin and expressed my concerns about Willie kicking, since I would be behind Willie in most of the moves we planned.
Kevin assured me nothing would happen and dismissed my concern completely. I mounted my horse, Tucker, and rode into the arena to warm up. Around 6 p.m., my mother began the practice. We walked the drill a few times and then trotted it. We stopped to discuss how comfortable we were with loping it. I expressed fear for it, since Willie already had kicked out once that night, but the majority wanted to lope, so we loped.
The beginning of the drill went great, we nailed our "butt-sniffer" box move and aced our circle, but here came the sweep. I was to Alexa's right; my horse's nose to Alexa's knee. The first half of the sweep went fine; I kept a little distance, but as we made our way around the corner, I was pushed closer to Willie.
Just before I could move the other direction, Willie kicked out, nailing my left leg with the tip of his hoof, jamming my leg and hip into the back of my saddle and jolting me with a yell of intense pain. This caused me to hit Grace to my right at a lope. My horse finally stopped, as Grace's father came running to me and lifted me off my horse and carried me to the bleachers.
Then Kevin came at me defensively and truly just did not know what to do in this situation. Everyone packed up my stuff, and I was carried to our pickup. Alexa came to apologize, already sobbing. I told her, "It's OK; things like this happen all the time." I consoled her and hugged her and sent her on her way. All as I sat there, knee swelling larger than a softball, heart pounding with anxiety and PTSD of my July accident. It was some of the worst pain of my life, both mentally and physically.
My mom and I raced to the home in Molalla that we rented from Angie. She unloaded the horses and we went to Kaiser Sunnyside. While there they did multiple X-rays on my left leg, determining it was a small fracture on my tibia just below my kneecap, and it had splintered downward about an inch. They sent me home with a removable leg brace and crutches. To this day I suffer excruciating sciatica pain.
From this point on, things changed. My mom and I still showed up to practices, but a week went by and Angie told us not to come: The girls didn't want us there. During this time Angie started driving by my aunt and uncle's house, stalking and taking photos of their home and cars. She eventually sent those photos to the school board to have me removed from the team.
At this point we already knew that she had people spying on team members' social media accounts. She made that clear when she threw a fit about one of the girl's accounts being private. Angie sent me a text after 11 p.m. Feb. 5, 2016, saying, "You have a PIG in our house! R u kidding me! You'll be getting notice hand delivered tomorrow." She meant an eviction notice and continued to text me: "Btw one of our really good friends works with you. You told her how Alexa doesn't know how to ride & that is how you got hurt."
At 12:08 a.m., she asked me, "Why did you unfriend me right after my text?" and "Very disappointed to hear what you said about Alexa. Wow!" I had deactivated all my social media. Because I felt so violated, I didn't want them to spy on me.
The next day Kevin came out to the house. I was crying, begging him to not do this. I was so sorry; it only happened once. But he didn't care. He said this is what happens, and he handed me, a 17-year-old girl with no parental figures around, an eviction notice to vacate the premises. I had to hand that notice to my mother.
Soon after Kevin left on Feb. 6 I got a message from Alexa going off on me for blocking them. No one could see my account and how "rude" of me. She asked how I could say those things about her. I had never said a single bad thing about Alexa.
I am fully aware that horses are unpredictable and held nothing against Alexa at the time, because it simply was not her fault. This was Angie and Kevin's fault, for failing to listen to all the girls whose lives were at risk and forcing an unsafe horse into an arena full of minors.
I had no contact with any of them until we had our meeting with the OHSET board, due to Angie trying to ban me from watching the meets and supporting the girls. I went to the first meet, but after the second, things got hostile.
I showed up at the meet on gaming day to support Grace and my now-previous teammates. I drove up with a friend to this event. After about an hour or so, Grace's father asks me to leave, saying he's sorry, but I can't stay the night with them because Angie had threatened to pull Grace from the rest of the meet and possibly the next meet. So, I said my goodbyes and drove two hours home.
Ashley Maestas is a former Oregon City High School equestrian team member who now lives in Idaho.
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