JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — East Tennessee State University officials are looking into complaints by former members of the university’s softball team.

The players claim they were mistreated by first-year head coach Belinda Hendrix and her husband, assistant coach Jimmy Hendrix.

Alana Collins is among the student-athletes who recently voiced their concerns through social media.

“They said things like that we looked retarded playing,” Collins said. She also said coaches called the team “a bunch of heifers” and frequently made other disparaging remarks.

“I was multiple times asked who hit after me and then they would say, ‘Oh right it was the last team because you’re always the last out,’” she said.

Collins told News Channel 11 she left the team about three weeks ago over how coaches were treating her and other players.

“You’re talking to someone who, when I thought about playing my last softball game I cried, like thinking about it and I planned on taking my fifth year after my senior year and truly playing until someone made me quit playing softball.”

She said the alleged mistreatment has deeply affected her and other student-athletes.

“It’s so constant. It’s so constantly tearing you down and draining mentally and emotionally and it just takes a toll on every single one of us,” Collins said.

“The entire locker room before and after practice is just dread, like there’s not a single person that I can tell you is enjoying playing softball for these people because of how much we dread playing for them.”

Belinda Hendrix was named ETSU’s softball coach in July 2021. She came to Johnson City from Chipola College where she had coached for the past 17 seasons.

“As soon as the coaches got here it has just been a completely mentally abusive situation,” Collins said. “Everything that the coaches say to us is just to tear us down and make us feel bad about ourselves. Nothing is ever positive towards us at all.”

Former ETSU softball player Alana Collins. (Photo: WJHL)

According to Collins, several players have voiced their concerns to officials in the athletics department in recent months. She also said her parents have also complained, including her father who is a baseball coach.

“He has coached me my whole life and he has definitely coached me to be the player that I am,” she said. “I am completely fine with being pushed. I have no problem being yelled at and motivated in any way. He is probably one of the most ‘suck it up, let’s get through this’ kind of person you’ve ever met and he’s infuriated with the way that I’ve been treated and the way that every single player on this team has been treated.”

Monday evening, ETSU’s athletics department released a statement from Director of Athletics Scott Carter regarding the complaints.

“The well-being of our student-athletes is something we take very seriously at ETSU,” Carter wrote. “While we strive for absolute excellence on the field of play, athletic performance should always be considered secondary to our student-athletes’ emotion, mental, and physical health as well as their academic and career development. As such, we take concerns such as those expressed by former members of our softball team very seriously. Our office is following ETSU’s established protocols and procedures to review these students’ and parents’ complaints to ensure a safe and healthy environment for the softball team and all ETSU student-athletes. Additionally, we recognize the need to expand upon the mental health and counseling resources provided to our student-athletes.”

Collins said she is speaking out to make other student-athletes aware of what is going on. As far as her future goes, she says she still wants to play softball for ETSU, but not for the current coaches.

“I really don’t want anything bad to happen to anyone and I’m not the kind of person that wishes harm on anyone but I don’t think that the players that have played for them in the past, present or future deserve to be treated the way that they’ve treated us,” Collins said.