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Louisville teammate details Erin Simon abuse: ‘I didn’t have a voice’

Brooke Hendrix (right) and Erin Simon (second from left) prepare to warm up with teammates before a game last season. (Lewis Gettier/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Brooke Hendrix remembers feeling helpless.

The former Racing Louisville player told WHAS11 News in an interview on Tuesday that she felt powerless when it came to helping her teammate and best friend Erin Simon navigate the abuse she says she experienced from coach Christy Holly.

Simon was subject to sexual coercion and assault from her former coach throughout her time at Sky Blue FC and then Racing Louisville, according to Sally Yates’ findings as part of U.S. Soccer’s independent investigation into abuse in the NWSL. The full report on the year-long investigation was released Monday.

Hendrix said she did her best to support Simon, even saying she was glad when she got picked up by Holly at Racing Louisville so she could be closer to her friend. The two played together with West Ham United from 2018-19 before reuniting in Louisville in 2021.

In the U.S. Soccer report, Simon details multiple incidents where Holly groped her and made unwanted sexual advances toward her. In one instance last April, during a one-on-one film session with Simon, Holly told her he would touch her for every bad pass she made and proceeded to put “his hands down her pants and up her shirt,” the report states.

Hendrix says she was unable to report the abuse because Holly held so much influence within the club and had “effectively shut my voice down with everyone,” even referring to her as a “cock block.”

“I literally couldn’t do anything,” she told WHAS11 News.

Hendrix, Simon and their teammates also feared for their jobs if they spoke up.

“I didn’t even know who to talk to if I wanted to,” Hendrix said. “We didn’t know what was going to happen to us if we said something. They can waive you at any point in the NWSL … It was so hard to know who to trust and who to talk to at that club.”

Hendrix said that Holly had also embarked on a campaign to malign her character while cutting her playing time and stopping her from traveling with the team.

“He was falsifying my character,” she said. “He was trying to make my words not matter.”

That silencing, she said, was “torture in itself.”

When Racing Louisville fired Holly in August 2021, the club stated in a release that he was “fired for cause” and did not elaborate further.

Hendrix says that Simon initially wanted her name left out, but she felt Simon’s identity could have been protected while still informing the public of Holly’s offenses.

“He was able to walk away free with nothing happening,” she said. “So many lies and rumors were spread when the truth should have been what was first and foremost.”

Holly left quietly, and rumors swirled around the league that the players had simply “gotten him fired,” Hendrix said. According to Yates’ report, Holly had also been coaching in the NWSL without the necessary licensing.

“You’ve got to do a better job of protecting people in general,” Hendrix said. “You’ve got to inform the public. How easily he got off in that moment was not OK with me.”