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Women in Coaching

A Troubling Development for Women Coaches

In December of 2014, I wrote a blog about the firing of Shannon Miller. I’m posting the beginning of the blog here, with a link to the full post as I think it is important to document and call attention to what colleague Pat Griffin recently called “college athletics’ war on women coaches.


Some of you may not know who Shannon Miller is, but those of us in The State of Hockey (Minnesota) do. Shannon Miller was a highly successful women’s hockey coach at University of Minnesota-Duluth where her teams have won five NCAA championships, she developed 28 current and former Olympians, and amassed a .713 winning percentage. I say “was” because on 12/16/2014 Miller was fired in the middle of her season (her contract was not renewed for 2015-16) because from the way it sounds, she got paid too much. Miller was the highest paid women’s hockey coach in the country at $215,000, largely because she is one of the best. Miller’s counterpart, the head men’s hockey coach at UMD makes $235,000, and still has his job.

Shannon Miller, Head Women's Hockey Coach, U of MN-Duluth

Shannon Miller, Head Women’s Hockey Coach, U of MN-Duluth

In a story posted on MPR Athletic Director Josh Berlo was quoted as saying, “She established a winning program, raised it to the highest level of competition and sustained a national championship tradition over the last 15 years. Today’s decision about Shannon’s contract was an immensely difficult and financially driven decision. Unfortunately, UMD Athletics is not in a position to sustain the current salary levels of our women’s hockey coaching staff.”


Let me point out a few things about Berlo’s decision that just don’t add up.

To read my argument, click here.

To follow updates on Miller and her staff, “like” the Reinstate Shannon Miller Facebook page.

The Real Women of Coaching: Season 2 (Episode 22) Heather Benning


HeatherBenning 1In episode 22, we begin to get to know Head Women’s Soccer Coach at Grinnell College, Heather Benning. This is the first episode highlighting Heather and her experiences with coaching. In this episode, she discusses her sport experiences and what drew her into coaching.

Please take a moment to view this episode and Tweet It, Post It, or Pin It to spread the word about our video series! We are increasing the numbers of viewers we have for this series every day and we need your help to grow that base even more!


Martina Navratilova saying the ‘gates opened for female coaches’ (courtesy of BBC)


Martina Navratilova tells the BBC that she feels like we will be seeing more female coaches in professional tennis.


From the BBC (22 Jan 2015): “Mauresmo remains unique as a female coaching one of the world’s top male players, but Navratilova see no reason why others should not follow.


‘A woman can coach a man just the same way a man can coach a woman,’ she said.  ’It’s about that one-on-one relationship, whether that works. Gender is irrelevant. Certainly the tennis ball doesn’t know what the gender was of the tennis coach.’ ”

Check out the entire interview!

It’s Friday!!! Title IX Trailblazer Video Series with NACWAA: Northwestern University’s Kelly Amonte Hiller


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While Friday does not signify the end of the week for most of us, it’s still great to take a few minutes out of our busy days and connect with a few of the women in NACWAA‘s Title IX Trailblazer Video Series.  Brief clips with loads of inspiration!


This week: Northwestern’s Kelly Amonte Hiller


What I most love is the legacy coach Amonte Hiller is creating by encouraging her players to become coaches!  Check it out!






Best Women Basketball Coaches of All Time – Who Would You Vote For?

PatSummittOn Thursday, the Wall Street Cheat Sheet published their summary of the 5 winningest college basketball coaches of all time.  This is the title of the article and I was surprised not to see Pat Summitt on the list.

When I dug down into the article a little further, it was explained this was a list of the top 5 winningest men’s college basketball coaches of all time.  Why not mention that in the title?

So if we were to list the best women coaches of all time…who would you vote for?  Well, here is a listing of the best women coaches in collegiate basketball to start….VERY MOTIVATING!!!!

Check out this article and then think of who you might add from your sport!





Parental Involvement: Using it to Your Advantage

PLAYER-PARENT-COACH-PARTNERSHIPIn the media, we frequently see parents behaving badly in youth and scholastic sports.  Talk to any coach with young athletes and you will inevitably hear the complaints about parents and their negative impact on their children, the team, and the program in general.


But, where are the examples of parents really supporting coaches, players, and teams?  There are literally millions of supportive parents, but we don’t often hear about these examples.


It is important for coaches to understand how to best include and utilize parents as resources.  While there are as many strategies as there are athletic programs,  I will focus on three strategies I have found most effective – beneficial to athletes, parents, and coaches.


1. Create a Strong Parent Board. Parent boards can help coaches complete many administrative activities unrelated to the actual coaching of athletes and, in this way, become critical partners with coaches.  Some of these activities might include assistance with registration, clothing and uniform orders, transportation, insurance, database management, alumni relations, equipment management, event day management, etc.

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Life Lessons

Athletics is a great teaching tool; for coaches as well as their players. Sometimes we coaches forget that it’s as important for us to learn from our experiences as it is to help our players grow. I learned several things as a head coach that you can’t know until you sit in the big chair and I use these lessons in my daily life.


Winning Is Important But… Winning or losing games should not define who you are as a person. And even though that should apply to everyone I would venture to say that coaches who don’t win many games say that much more than those who do. No matter how you rationalize it, it is awful when you lose. You feel horrible when you put your heart and soul into something and it doesn’t turn out the way you imagined. But you know what? Life isn’t fair. I read a great quotation from the speaker Tony Robbins, “Expecting the world to treat you fair because you are a good person is like expecting a bull not to charge you because you are a vegetarian.” So win or lose, live your life.


Have a Strong Sense of Self. Everyone will think they can coach your team better than you. You need thick skin in the coaching profession (and in life). Go to work every day and try to do the right thing. But never, ever base your opinion of yourself on someone else’s perception of you.


Try Not to Make the Same Mistake Twice. Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. And even though it doesn’t feel good mistakes help us grow. Learn from those mistakes. I always think of the saying “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Don’t be stubborn and think you are always right. It’s okay to admit when you are wrong. It’s okay to be human.


Try Not to Make a Mistake So Big it Ruins Your Career. We all have that inner voice telling us when things aren’t right. Listen to it. It only takes one small indiscretion to ruin a career. Be smart.


Forgive Yourself. You are not always going to do or say the right things so lighten up on yourself. Many a night I lay awake worried because of something I said to a kid or the way I handled a situation only to go to work the next day and the kid had either forgotten, moved on, or forgiven me. Don’t beat yourself up. It’s wasted energy you could be using elsewhere in a more productive way.


Appreciate The Good Times. Coaches forget to “live life” sometimes. After games I let myself enjoy the win only for the amount of time it took to ride the bus home and then my thoughts immediately went to what I needed to do for the next game.  There were times that, although I was extremely happy for and proud of my players and their performance, I didn’t allow myself to fully experience any of their joy. I think about that and hope that in the future I won’t forget to be “present” in the moment.


Relax. If you’re doing all that you can your dedication will make you successful eventually, whether it’s with what you are doing now or something else. Don’t be discouraged by failure. It’s better to try and fail than to sit and wonder what could have been “if only…”


Have Patience. Not everything is going to happen when you think it should. Everyone has a schedule in their head of how their career should progress. Guess what? You’re not always in control! Robin Roberts had a great quote, “God’s delays are not His denials”. We don’t always get what we want when we want it. Sometimes what we want isn’t supposed to happen. Often our destiny is greater than we could ever imagine. We just need to get out of our own way to achieve it.


Keep Knocking. So many times people give in to doubt when they encounter obstacles; some literal, some figurative, many created by themselves. Whenever I feel passionate about something I pursue it even though I may have doubts. I believe that if something is on my mind and in my heart every day, then there is a reason for that. So when one door closes I keep “knocking” until the one I need opens.


Enjoy. Being a coach is a privilege, an honor, and a blessing. Be grateful you get to do what you love even though the path is not always smooth. And be sure to remember that on your worst day, when nothing goes right, there is always someone worse off.








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