Why not coach?

February 21, 2018 by

If you have kids who play sports, you know it’s hard to find volunteer coaches, if not impossible. When no one steps up to coach, kids don’t get to play. I have to admit, I’m guilty. And worse, I’ve excused my lack of initiative on the fact that women aren’t typically coaches. (There is a shortage of coaches in general, and only 27 percent of adults who coach youth teams are women.)

Well this year is different! Earlier this month I attended a free coaching workshop called, wait for it, “We are Game Changers,” led by the University of Washington Center for Leadership in Athletics.

What inspired me to participate? A lot. My love of sports. Wondering if my twin boys would have a coach at the start of lacrosse season. But mainly the wave of momentum that’s propelled women worldwide to ask “Why not me?” The movement really challenged my notion of women as coaches.

At the event packed full of other women, I realized I wasn’t alone in thinking about becoming a coach. Amongst women of all levels of experience, workshop organizers dispelled the myth that you need to have played the sport to coach it. Kids will still benefit from female leadership and perspective in the sports world. I walked away with more confidence and a better understanding of the value I bring to youth sports. Now I’m all signed up for my spring coaching gigs.

While this is the year I decided to finally sign up, there have been plenty of moments I found inspirational along the way. The scene that stands out the most was from when my boys started playing soccer. In lieu of adult volunteers, an older sister of one of the players agreed to coach the team with her friend. At one of the first practices the boys weren’t really listening. While that’s completely normal for any group of kids this age, they were also grumbling about having girl coaches, “who didn’t know anything.”

Frustrated by this, but certainly not deterred, one of the girls said, “Fine! I’ll race all of you to the other side of the field. If I win, you agree to listen to everything I say.” They all agreed and took off. She outran them by a long shot! The boys were impressed, “Wow! You’re fast!!” And that was the end of that.

In that moment I knew women can, and will, find their path to coaching. And it starts with participation.