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“Be prepared to be her brains when her brains fall out of her head”: Advice On How To Be The Best Assistant Coach You Can Be

Katie Hagan, Ursinus College Head Women's Lacrosse Coach

Dear Women in Coaching Blog Readers:  In the classic television sit-com, M*A*S*H, Corporal Radar O’Reilly displayed the uncanny ability to anticipate the wishes of his superior officers before they were aware of them and set in motion all of the necessary paperwork and directives that needed to be in place in order to make things happen.  A wonder of efficiency and organization, Radar navigated the complex bureaucracy and hierarchy of the United States Army with precision and skill, unlocking access to valued resources and privileges that were otherwise untouchable.  Good in a crisis, he delivered under pressure, protecting his boss, putting out fires when conflicts arose among the ranks, and serving as a sounding board for the discouraged, scared, or frustrated.    Without knowing the context in which he worked, you could well imagine that Radar was an assistant coach.* 

            And much like Radar, assistant coaches are often the ones behind the scenes in a program, making things move along smoothly and on track, their presence felt most in their absence.  That quality of blending into a program and being a seamless extension of it may explain why there is relatively little attention paid to what it really takes to be a good assistant coach.  In the recent Centennial Conference Snell-Shillingford Symposium, Gettysburg College head softball coach Samantha Abrams and Ursinus College head women’s lacrosse coach Katie Hagan offered their insights about women making the transition from player to assistant coach.  The themes they discussed included: Continue reading

Centennial Conference’s Snell-Shillingford Symposium: Empowering The Next Generation of Women Coaches

 Legendary Ursinus College coach Eleanor Frost Snell & Jen Shillingford, former director of athletics and physical education at Bryn Maw College.

Dear Women in Coaching Blog Readers:
This upcoming weekend, the Centennial Conference will host the 13th annual Snell-Shillingford Symposium. Female athlete representatives and coaches from the conference’s member schools, including Bryn Mawr, Dickinson, Franklin and Marshall, Gettysburg, Johns Hopkins, McDaniel, Muhlenberg, Swarthmore, Ursinus, and Washington College, will converge on Haverford College to participate in sessions designed to empower women in the coaching profession and to encourage them to take up the legacy of those who have gone before them.
The symposium honors the contributions and commitment of two of the most influential women in the coaching profession, Eleanor Frost Snell and Jen Shillingford. Miss Snell, as she was known to her students, served Ursinus College as a professor of health and physical education, coach, and head of the women’s physical education department for four decades, from 1931 to 1971. In keeping with the program’s emphasis on mentoring and passing on the education of coaches from one generation to the next, the symposium also bears the name of Snell’s student and mentee, Jen Shillingford, who served as field hockey coach and athletic director for over 20 years at Bryn Mawr and president of the United States Field Hockey Association (USFHA) .
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