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Publish date: May 16, 2011

New women’s coaching alliance forms

By Kristen Leigh Porter
NCAA.org

After years of discussion and planning, the much-anticipated Alliance of Women Coaches is launching as a new association for women coaches.

The Alliance, which is not sport-specific, will serve as a resource for countless women who are either currently coaching or aspire to break into the coaching ranks. An individual charter membership is $99, and institutional memberships are available starting today at www.GoCoaches.org

The Alliance is an outgrowth of the NCAA Women Coaches Academy. Since its inception in 2003, more than 22 academies have taken place, producing more than 700 graduates. The academies educate coaches beyond sport-specific techniques, teaching them about management skills, communication strategies and career development.

With the popularity of the academies and increased demand for more educational and networking opportunities, the need for a year-round resource is evident. A recent survey found that 98 percent of NCAA Women Coaches Academy graduates desire a forum to keep them connected with their peers.

Celia Slater, the executive director of the NCAA Women Coaches Academy, and Judy Sweet, former NCAA senior vice president, have responded to the requests to provide a vehicle for women coaches at all levels, from all sports, to strengthen their network and skills by developing The Alliance. Slater and Sweet have taken what began as merely an idea at the academies and shaped it into a valuable and tangible resource for women.

“The network of support seems to be one of the main reasons we’re retaining our NCAA Women Coaches Academy graduates and one of the main reasons they wanted us to create this Alliance after their experience of the Academy so they can still feel connected to that support and also offer that support to other women coaches who may not have the opportunity to attend the Academy,” Slater said.

The Alliance’s four areas of focus are advocacy, growth, mentoring and support for women coaches and those pursuing careers in coaching. The alliance aims to complement the technical skill development provided by sport specific organizations, with a focus on everything from a to z − except for the x’s and o’s. 

An additional goal is to reverse the declining number of women serving as head coaches.  The recently released 2009-10 Race and Gender Demographics Report for NCAA members shows a continuing drop in the percentage of female head coaches coaching women’s teams.  Only 39.5 percent of women’s teams currently had female head coaches, the lowest percentage in history, and the percentage of racial and ethnic minority women’s head coaches was 13.9 percent. Less than 20 percent of all head coaches for both men’s and women’s teams are female.  In 1972, 90 percent of women’s college teams were coached by women.

Said Slater: “I think it’s really important that we work hard to increase the number of women in these leadership positions we call coaches so that they’re visible as role models for both men and women student-athletes.” 

In its initial launch, The Alliance will be a virtual network for coaches. The Alliance website – www.GoCoaches.org -- features a database of career opportunities, event calendar, membership directory, resource center with information on legal and Title IX issues and social media access. Future goals include creating an annual convention and regional seminars. Additionally, there are hopes to collaborate with other associations to enhance existing opportunities for women coaches.

“The emphasis will be on educating, networking, mentoring and supporting the professional development of female coaches through various means, including regional and national forums and technology platforms,” Sweet said. “Regardless of sport, there are common threads that allow these coaches to learn from and help each other. We believe that The Alliance will facilitate this network of support and strengthen the overall experiences of the coaches, as well as the experiences of their student-athletes.”

In addition to Slater and Sweet, a board of advisors will help guide The Alliance. The current board members include Julie Foudy (former soccer Olympian), Peg Bradley Doppes (Denver vice chancellor of athletics and recreation), Marilyn McNeil (Monmouth vice president and director of athletics), Jeanne Lenti Ponsetto (DePaul director of athletics), Clint Bryant (Augusta State director of athletics), Carol Stiff (ESPN vice president, progamming and acquistions), Charlotte West (professor emerita and former Southern Illinois associate director of athletics), Christine Grant (Iowa athletic director emerita), Colleen Hacker (Olympic sport psychologist, Pacific Lutheran professor), Sue Enquist (UCLA former softball coach, development/special projects), Richard Lapchick (Central Florida director of The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport), Linda Carpenter (Acosta Carpenter Longitudinal Study co-author), Cecile Reynaud (associate professor, former Florida State volleyball coach), Alfreeda Goff (Horizon League senior associate commissioner/chief of staff), Karen Morrison (NCAA director of gender inclusion), Tina Sloan-Green (Black Women in Sport Foundation president), Chris Voelz (Minnesota athletics director emerita, Women's Sports Foundation leadership gifts officer), Anita DeFrantz (LA84 Foundation president), Mariah Burton Nelson (American Association for Physical Activity and Recreation executive director) and Robyn Markey (Special Olympics North America director of organizational development).

The Alliance has identified a board of coaches with representatives from all three divisions of the NCAA, high school and community programs which includes: Zenarae Antoine (Texas State basketball coach), Jen Bowman (Trinity College volleyball coach), Sue Caples (Harvard field hockey coach), Janet Carl (Cincinnati golf coach), Holly Hesse (Missouri State softball coach), Gail Hook (Monarch High School basketball coach), Marissa Hoover (Penn State, Harrisburg SWA and director of development), Lesley Irvine (Bowling Green State associate athletics director), Megan Kahn (Atlantic 10 Conference associate commissioner), Danielle Lund McNamara (Yale tennis coach), Linda Raunig (Regis basketball coach), Dorsi Raynolds (Upper Valley Aquatics Club coach), Dawn Redd (Beloit volleyball coach) and Lisa Tinkler (Drury golf coach). All but Hook, who represents high school coaches, are NCAA Women Coaches Academy graduates.