Becky Hamon, coach for San Antonio Spurs

Leading Teams to Victory: Women Leaders in Sports

Leading Teams to Victory: Women Leaders in Sports

The sports world is amazing, it’s filled with inspirational stories, admirable leaders, role models, and incredible coaches, it’s a truly remarkable entity. However, when we think of amazing coaches, how many of those are women? It’s now the year 2022 and most franchises such as the NFL have been around for 100 years or so, but we have yet to see a remarkable amount of women acting as coaches at any sort of level. As both an athlete and a coach I can say that there are not many women acting as coaches nor having leadership positions on teams. I’ve swam competitively for 13 years, I have yet to have a woman as a coach and now, being a coach, and seeing a lack of women like myself in these positions I feel it is important to call attention to this issue. I believe that any woman's perspective and way of thinking is an important dynamic to add to any team. Diverse opinions and ways of thinking should always be welcomed and are, I believe, considered to be necessary for the development and growth of any athletic organization. 

Diving into the swim world, which I’ve been a part of for the vast majority of my life and now play the role of both coach and swimmer, I feel passionate about women becoming leaders more often in this sport. According to the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sports in its 2020-2021 report, which focuses on women’s presence in roles as head coaches for women’s teams in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 institutions, showed that across all sports, women are still the minority as head coaches even for women’s teams. In swimming for example only 20.5% of head coaches for women’s swim teams in NCAA Division 1 institutions are women and 79.5% are men. It is important to note that this is considered an improvement from last year's report card (2019-2020) created by the Tucker Center stating that only 17.9% of head coaches for women’s swim teams were women. 

This issue however, goes beyond just collegiate institutions in general, institutions such as the National Football League (NFL) which has been around since 1920, have only recently been seeing more women have an active role as coaches or even a presence on these professional teams. In the 2021 season according to The Sporting News there were only “12 women serving as coaches in the league…” noting that this is “the most at one time in NFL history”. This number is definitely an improvement and one to be celebrated like Lori Locust who made history last season after being promoted to assistant coach and was the “first Black female assistant coach in the NFL '', she currently still works as the Assistant Defensive Line Coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Twelve women is only the start, It’s great to see that the NFL’s Women’s Careers in Football Forum (WCFF) is helping women form connections in the industry, but it’s imperative that this growth continues and that the successes of women as coaches as well as any position in male dominated industries and sports is highlighted, celebrated, and promoted. 

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has also seen an increase in women as coaches. In the 2020-2021 season according to an article titled “Full list of female coaches for NBA’s 75th anniversary season” published in 2021, “there are seven women on coaching staff”. It seems that more women acting as coaches has been a rising trend since 2017, however this number is one that I personally would love to see grow exponentially. Most notably, Jessica Cohen from the Portland Trail Blazers was promoted to be the Head Athletic Trainer, this accomplishment makes her the first and only woman to hold this position in NBA history. It’s time we see more headlines like this in the NBA and in all franchises. Women are well and capable of holding these positions. It should be encouraged to see women hold more positions as coaches across all sports and industries. 

The amount of women holding positions as coaches across all sports and industries is on the rise, this growth is one that should be acknowledged and encouraged, it is only the beginning. I hope that more teams realize the value of having more women present in male dominated industries. It is important to create more role models for young girls to look up to and it’s time to see the development of women in these industries as well. I look forward to seeing a future full of women being coaches and leaders and seeing more headlines announcing women as head coaches and breaking the glass ceilings that have been there for far too long.

Feature image via The Guardian