This is a great article about the cost of NOT hiring women coaches. Great thoughts in this one!
Last week Dr. Amy Giddings (the founder of this blog and one of my professors of Sport Management at Drexel) and I filled in for another professor in the department and it was a great experience! The undergraduate class was in Leadership and the week’s discussion was on gender issues. Dr. Giddings taught the first section while I taught the second, so we both discussed this blog! As part of the lecture, we asked the students for some feedback on our website, and one piece of advice that really stood out to me was: you guys are doing a great job at inspiring women to become coaches…but what about telling them how to become coaches? Well, here is how I did it, and you can, too!
1) Follow your passion. I was a math major in college and then went on to work at various consulting firms, crunching numbers in Excel at all hours of the day and putting together PowerPoint presentations. While this path followed my skills, it certainly wasn’t the road to my passion for running, being outside, and engaging with and helping others. Coaching, on the other hand, certainly fulfills these desires.
2) Update your resume. By the time I was 27 (which was the time I started looking for a coaching job), my resume was full of phrases like “Trusted advisor on employer health and welfare programs” and “Assisted biotech and pharmaceutical companies in defining, creating, and executing commercial development strategies.” These have nothing to do with coaching cross country or track, right? So I revamped my resume to bring in as much as I could about my experience as a runner, running camp counselor, team captain, student athletic trainer…anything I could to show my experience and potential skills to become a coach.
3) Contact potential employers and be enthusiastic! I e-mailed approximately 80 colleges and universities in the Philadelphia area, high schools, and neighborhood track clubs asking for assistant coaching positions, paid or volunteer! I heard back from many head coaches who, even though they didn’t have a need for a coach at the time, were impressed with my passion and enthusiasm and said they would hold onto my resume (and I have actually received e-mails from them throughout the past couple of years asking if I am still available)! I was lucky enough to hear a response from Bryn Mawr College and have been working there as the Cross Country and Track & Field assistant ever since. It has been an unbelievably great fit for me, and while I was hired due to the timing of the team’s needs (the new head coach was looking for a new assistant), I also know that my background in the sport and passion for wanting to become a coach had something to do with it as well
4) Create a network. Join every LinkedIn group you can that has something to do with your sport, the coaches and administrators in it, and the skills behind it. “Like” the same organizations on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. Go to clinics and conventions and meet people (I even had my own business cards made up for this purpose). E-mail these contacts every few months, even if just to say hello.
Good luck! Hopefully you will realize that nowhere in this post did I mention becoming certified or going to school before becoming a coach. While I have done both since becoming a coach (I am USATF Level I certified and finishing my master’s in Sport Management at Drexel), I did not have these qualifications when I first started looking for a job. I am a firm believer, therefore, that if you follow your passion with perseverance, your career path will become much more accessible and opportunities will evolve that you never before imagined.
As I read through my daily headlines this afternoon, I came across an article entitled “Sharing the Pain of Women in Medicine” and was inspired to write about it today. The author describes her doctor friend who “got tired of being a woman in medicine.” She, more often than her male counterparts, was asked to work on more holidays, sit in on administrative meetings, and other things that kept her away from advancing in her career. When she raised these concerns to her chairman, “he listened – but never responded to her repeated requests for a raise or more support.”
This sounds awfully familiar…I wrote about similar events in “The Women’s Side of the Glass Wall.”
In 2000, a survey put out by Annals of Internal Medicine found that gender bias was widespread among medical institutions. “More than half of the women professors surveyed reported being discriminated against or sexually harassed,” women faculty made less money, were promoted more slowly, and fared worse in peer-review. A more recent study that focused on the emotional well-being of its survey takers showed that men were just as likely as women to feel ignored, discriminated against, and unsupported by their institution. As a result of these findings, some institutions have begun to offer mentoring programs aimed to develop leadership skills and to create a collaborative environment of trust. “While it remains to be seen whether these changes will endure, it has become clearer that men, as well as women, stand to benefit from any improvement.” Here’s to hoping!
Chen, P. (2012, November 29). Sharing the Pain of Women in Medicine. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/29/sharing-the-pain-of-women-in-medicine/?ref=healthupdate&nl=health&emc=edit_hh_20121204
This fall at the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport we focused our fall Distinguished Lecture on the topic of gender and sport leadership. Specifically we invited two renown sport management scholars, Dr. Janet Fink (UMass Amherst) and Dr. Sally Shaw (U of Otago, New Zealand) to flush out why the numbers of women sport leaders is declining in the US, and why women in other countries have failed to ascend to positions of power. Their insights are compelling and thought provoking.
For the past 10 months I have been at the University of Michigan helping to build its first-ever Division I Varsity Women’s Lacrosse program as an assistant coach. I’ve learned quite a lot during my journey so far and with about one year remaining until the first class of women’s lacrosse players step on campus, I thought I would share the next steps in my journey with you through this blog!
Over the course of the next year I will be writing a blog post on the FIRST day of each month to honor our Team ONE – the very first Michigan Women’s Lacrosse Team. Through a series of 12 blog posts I hope to shed some light on what it is like to build an athletic program from the ground up, share some of the observations I’ve made along the way and reflect upon the journey while its happening.
The countdown to TEAM ONE has begun!
MONTH 1: LESSONS IN LEADERSHIP
“Those Who Stay Will Be Champions”. Legendary Michigan Football Head Coach Bo Schembechler delivered this rallying cry to his players from his first day on the job. Every Michigan football player who played for Bo and stayed at Michigan through four years earned at least one Big Ten Championship ring. Additionally, no player under Bo’s leadership saw a losing season. To this day, “Those Who Stay Will Be Champions” resonates as a team motto for every Michigan Wolverine.
But Championships weren’t Coach Shembechler’s main focus; the goal was always “The TEAM, The TEAM, The TEAM”. Bo knew that Champions came as a result of the THE TEAM and nothing is ever more important that THE TEAM. CLICK HERE to view Bo’s famous “The TEAM, The TEAM, The TEAM” speech (it’s pretty amazing).
Bo Schembechler’s book titled “Bo’s Lasting Lessons“ was a summer read for all Michigan coaches in preparation for our first Michigan Leadership Academy (MLA) session with Jeff Janssen. Throughout the session we discussed lessons learned from Bo and his leadership and coaching philosophy. Bo Schembechler was a great coach whose teams and players saw tremendous success both on the field, off the field and beyond under his tutelage, but it is his triumphant leadership that is perhaps his most lasting legacy.
An interesting question was raised during this particular MLA. The question was “Do you think Coach Bo Schembechler would be able to be as successful today using his same leadership and coaching philosophy?” My first thought was yes. Many of Bo’s lessons in leadership revolved around a strong foundation of core morals and values. In my opinion, when a coach has a strong sent of moral and values and relies on them to make decisions on a daily basis, success will always follow. However, some felt that it would not be possible for him to succeed given the current political landscape of coaching. With additional pressures and demands of coaches today, other coaches felt he would have had to make some adjustments in his ways to be successful. It was an interesting and thought provoking perspective.
The MLA discussion surrounding leadership and Bo Schembechler got me thinking and raising questions about my own leadership style and how we as a staff will need to prepare ourselves to begin to instill leadership within our team as they arrive on campus. As a large group of predominately freshman with no senior leadership to employ or rely on in year one it will be a unique set of circumstances – some of which we may not have encountered as coaches prior to this point. How will we make a lasting, meaningful and motivating impact on our team in the way that Bo did with his rallying cry? How will we go about implementing Michigan Tradition into our team? In what ways (if any) will we need to adjust our leadership approach to meet the needs of our Team One? It’s important that in the upcoming months we focus on the different but deliberate ways we will look to build leaders on our team here at Michigan and as we begin to map out our team’s road to leadership the answer to those questions and more will start to reveal themselves.
The academic year is in full swing and I am back in the halls with my coaching colleagues. After a busy summer for all of us it has been great to catch up with those who I work with and start the support system at our university.
Because of this and by the recommendation of our mentors at the NCAA Women’s Coaches Academy, I have taken it upon myself to gather our female coaches from all sports from lacrosse to crew, to find a monthly date to meet up, share a professional piece of advice, and talk about the challenges and how we can support each other at our university.
It is my hope to get the Women’s Coaches Morning Crew off the ground and running so that as female coaches, we can support each other and help each other grow as coaches in our respective sports. This idea does not have to stay within a college or school, this to0 can branch out to other schools, and yes, even your rivals! Bottom line, we are all coaches and we all have the power to make a difference. We should strive to support and grow all female coaches!
So, how to start?
- Get a vision of what you want the group to look like. Reach out to your female colleagues and see who are interested and available.
- Find a time, date, and space that is conducive to fit the number of coaches and a space that is confidential.
- Including food or beverages is a great way to “entice” others to take part
- Make sure the meetings are consistent (once a month, twice a month, etc.).
Once you have your colleagues in agreement to attend and contribute, make a decision of how the group would like the meetings to run.
- Will there always be one leader who introduces scenarios or information to share?
- Will each coach who participates be in charge of leading it for a different session?
- Will it grow into weekly informational emails or monthly newsletters?
Once you get your group together and get in a groove it is always helpful to look back and reassess.
- What can be changed to make the group run more smoothly or to create more consistent attendance?
- What can be added to enhance the group?
- Who should be recognized for their efforts and contributions?
Let this thought sink in. Coaching is easier when you have that support system and sometimes that support system just needs to be discovered. That support system can be just steps down the hallway.
Get together, share information and knowledge, support each other, and grow as coaches!
Nicole Moore Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach Stetson University
I will never forget the pin I bought when I was in fourth grade at a fair by my house. It was light blue with big black lettering and read: “Anything Boys Can Do, Girls Can Do Better.” I couldn’t get the 50 cents out of my pocket quick enough to buy the pin that I swore was made just for me and I proudly stuck it front and center on my denim-washed jean jacket so that everyone would be able to read it and know that I was one of those girls who wasn’t going to be intimidated by boys. I’ve kept that pin over the years to remind myself that I – a women – can do anything a man can do…and do it better!
Of course today I don’t truly believe that we as women do everything better than men, but I do believe in that spirited mentality a young girl who knew her unique worth as a female. We as women are different in ways that make us better at some things than others and it’s important we take the time to recognize and celebrate these differences that make us better – especially when it comes to leadership and coaching. Far too often I hear women mention the things that actually make us better leaders as weakness or limitations. We don’t always fully appreciate what we as women can bring to the table, and instead of celebrating and exploiting these differences, we downplay or ignore them.
I recently came across a post by Dan Rockwell, a.k.a The Leadership Freak (http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/), that focused on “Where Women Leaders are Better than Men”. The post was an interesting compilation of input to a question he threw out there to his Facebook followers. The Leadership Freak asked the “Freaks” (as he calls them) that follow his Facebook page, “What are women leaders better at than men?”
Incidentally, over the past couple months, I have been asking myself that very same question. As I watched NCAA Tournament for both women’s and men’s basketball this past winter, I found myself paying less attention to the actual game and more attention to the coaches and their ability to lead – especially when the going got tough! At times, there were noticeable and distinct differences at how the women coaches responded to certain situations (before, during, in-between and after games) when compared to the men. It’s not to say one way was right and one was wrong, or one way was successful and another unsuccessful, just that while they were alike in some aspects, they were also noticeably different in others. Maybe it was that little fourth grader inside of me who thought she could do anything better than the boys, but I started to think about women and their innate differences and what makes them great leaders which in turn lead me to think about what qualities women possess that make them better leaders than men (and vice versa). I reflected back to myself as a young girl so confident that what made her a girl made her better. I thought to myself, now all these years later as a woman have I continued to fully embrace my innate differences that make me a strong leader?
I think it’s important to note here that in doing this comparison I by no means am trying to stereotype one gender or another, I’m just simply attempting to point out the unique and valuable differences that women possess which make them fantastic leaders and in turn successful coaches. The Leadership Freak hinted to this notion well in his post by saying: “Generalities and stereotypes that lock people in restrictive boxes belittle everyone. On the other hand, celebrating difference honors individuals and enhances organizations.” Well said.
So what exactly did those Facebook followers come up with in response to his question? Below is a list of answers:
- Knowing when there is no value in fighting.
- Understanding when someone just has a crummy day.
- Understanding the pressures that other women leaders face.
- Organization and multitasking.
- Building consensus, supporting staff, sharing credit, and leading from the middle.
- Emotional Intelligence.
- *Smiling through the pain.
- Focusing on details.
- Mission focus and *tolerance.
- Valuing people for who they are not just what they do.
- Building relationships that last.
- Creating an environment where mistakes are not just tolerated but seen as essential to growth.
Note: Items are listed in the order they were posted on Facebook. An asterisk indicates that item was mentioned more than once.
The Leadership Freak used spot #20 on the list in his post to ask his readers: “What can you add, amplify, or illustrate?” I’d like to ask the same of all the Women in Coaching readers… use the comments section below to add to the list and share your thoughts with us!
Since I like to end each of my posts with a quote, I can’t help but share the slogan I saw on the t-shirt of a young lacrosse player recently during my recruiting travels. She reminded me of myself at that age with my treasured blue pin I bought at the fair. Her t-shirt read “Some girls chase boys, I pass them”. Something tells me that young girl will grow up to be a successful woman leader.
Jennifer Valore, Assistant Women’s Lacrosse Coach, University of Michigan, firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter: jvalore