INTENSIVE: Building Competition discussion Modeling for players
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June 26, 2020 at 8:17 pm #175728Inactive
I want to sincerely and deeply thank all of you today for your comments, advice and support. I’d also like to apologise for not being able to respond to comments in the chat because Zoom kept tossing me off the call!
As the only woman in the league coaching boys teams in each of these age groups (u14s, u16s, u18s) it can be challenging but also incredibly rewarding, as any coaching is.
What I struggle most with is a new u14s team. We invest deeply during the pre-season in developing our team culture, modelling it for them and holding ourselves accountable only to have it eroded following our first competitive experience.
The boys see negative behaviour from other teams’ players and coaches, they pick up on the underlying sexism from referees, other coaches and players. Parents (thankfully not all) see the culture of our team as being out of kilter with what they are seeing from the other teams and assume it is because I am inappropriately requiring a ‘female culture’.
I get told that their boys need positive outside male role models in their lives and this is one reason why sport is important. How can I, as a female, provide them with a positive male role model?
My response is that our culture is predicated upon what is the optimum behaviour in any given situation and I cannot understand how our values or our expectations or standards of behaviour can be anything but gender neutral.
What I bite my tongue on saying is perhaps the very fact that we are having this conversation is precisely why they will benefit from a female coach. But I don’t want to be identified by my gender first but rather my skills as a coach.
I don’t have this issue by the end of season or with my u16s and u18s. Probably because by that point, as they say, ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’. In fact, at a recent international competition, my u16s could not wait to tell me how a team we were due to play next had been trash talking to them about having a female coach. It was almost like they were not battling for my honour as of old, but for my right not to be seen as a ‘female coach’, just ‘coach’. They did me proud.
Anyway, I do genuinely appreciate all of your support and feedback. This is absolutely a courageous conversation with both players and parents at the beginning of the season and an on going dialogue. I’m just hoping somebody might have some insights that might expedite the process! ?
Thank you and apologies for such a lengthy post.June 28, 2020 at 8:09 pm #176325Inactive
Funny (or not funny), but we don’t see these issues nearly as much with men coaching women. I believe it’s FAR more important for female athletes to see successful female coaches in leadership positions than for guys. Social pressure for young women to conform to “ideals of femininity” is much higher than for young men, who are allowed a greater range of behaviors as “acceptable.” This is changing, but not nearly quickly enough for my taste.July 9, 2020 at 8:35 am #176333InactiveOn 6/28/2020 at 3:09 PM, Nelson Handel said:
Funny (or not funny), but we don’t see these issues nearly as much with men coaching women. I believe it’s FAR more important for female athletes to see successful female coaches in leadership positions than for guys. Social pressure for young women to conform to “ideals of femininity” is much higher than for young men, who are allowed a greater range of behaviors as “acceptable.” This is changing, but not nearly quickly enough for my taste.
I agree completely with your view on how important it is for female players to see female coaches in leadership positions. The majority of athletes in our program have always played for a male coach and that is the only experience that they have had. It can sometimes be harder for them to embrace leading because they haven’t experienced what that looks/feels like from another female previously.
I think personally I’ve come to realize over the past couple months what a great opportunity this is for me to model what great leadership looks like for our team and it isn’t something I want to take lightly. Being able to mentor and empower our players that would like to get into coaching is something that I am passionate about and would like to do a better job of as well.July 22, 2020 at 8:03 pm #176346Inactive
Thank you for sharing insight into your coaching situation and being vulnerable with the challenges you are experiencing.
I enjoyed reading Nelson and Kristen-your messages as well.
I look at it as females coaching males in sport is no different than teaching in the classroom. It’s different b/c it’s not a social norm even though there are now female NBA and NCAA MBB coaches as well as female referees.
I think there may be some initial adjustment but ultimately people see the skills and the work and respect it. Its sounds like that has taken place for you Ruth so that’s a testament to your coaching ability and relationships with your players. Snaps to that.
We had a female coach for our 14U BCB boys program here and I think there was initial curiosity from parents and players. However, this female coach earned the respect just like a male coach did. I never heard from a parent or player about it as the head of our organization…first time we had done it so I was curious if it would come up.
One thing that comes to mind to this topic and any related topic…if you feel like there is an elephant in the room or could be, either address it or seek out a couple of players or parents feedback on what some behind the scenes discussion may be happening as to you being a female coach…and get insight so you can speak even stronger or more informed to what’s being said. I think speaking boldly and courageously to it could help even more in establishing your leadership (and sounds like you have or are doing this already). I also look at this discussion similar when I hear ignorant dialogue that suggests a coach can’t be a good coach unless they were a good player…we know this is completely not true. Or NBA coaches that didn’t play in the NBA don’t understand NBA players or a college coach couldn’t understand the NBA game or a HS coach can’t coach in College. There is no basis. People are people and relationships are relationships. Coaching is Coaching and competence is competence. That would mean Geno had no business coaching UCONN or Jenny Boucek doesn’t belong with the Mavs or Bil Belichick can’t be NFL coach b/c he played D3 college football….the list goes on and on.
Ruth, glad to see you are pursuing your passion and making an impact. And we are excited as a key5 community to be alongside you.
Grow the game,
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