Female role models key to student-athlete growth

Graphic by Kevin Vanhorn | Mercury Staff.


Female coaches are an easy way for athletic departments to provide role models for female student-athletes, but it’s not the only option for schools.

It has long been commonplace to see women coaching women’s sports and men coaching men’s sports, but this is starting to change for women’s athletics. The Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport researched changes over time in regards to Title IX, the law that prohibits discrimination by sex in college athletics as well as in other aspects of education. Before Title IX, the coaches of women’s college teams were 90 percent female, as opposed to current day where that number has fallen below 50 percent. For men’s college teams, the number of female coaches has stayed very low at around 2 percent. This can be seen as a downside of Title IX, but the coach who is best for the job should be the one hired, regardless of gender.

With the number of female coaches dropping, it’s important to look to other roles in athletic departments. One of the assistant athletic directors at UTD, Angela Marin, was named emerging athletic administrator by the National Association of Division III Athletic Administrators at the start of 2017. This is awarded to an administrator with less than seven years of experience who has shown great involvement and leadership. Marin provides mentorship to student-athletes both at UTD and at the NCAA Convention in January where the award is given. Her mentorship and the work of others like her can provide a strong female role model.

Playing professionally is unlikely for anyone. For example, around one percent of college basketball players make it to the NBA or WNBA, according to the NCAA. For those women talented enough to go pro, their jobs come with a much lower salary, when there is a salary. An article by Canadian Living said the Candadian Women’s Hockey League only pays each championship winning player $1,000 while the rest go unpaid. The Sport Digest found that the difference in average WNBA and NBA salaries was $55,000 versus $4,000,000 respectively. This difference is due to the lower popularity and revenue.

With the lack of money in professional women’s sports and the general unlikelihood of pursuing playing as a long-term career, it can be difficult to stay involved in sports. For those who are passionate about athletics, seeing options outside of playing can help make informed career choices. At UTD, Marin isn’t the only woman outside of the coaches who can form a support network for aspiring girls, as there are women in the strength and condition program, the sports medicine program and in other administrative roles.

Due to the limitations of being a Division III school, there are only so many options UTD can provide. The athletic department isn’t as large as a typical Division I school, so there are more shared resources, including the athletic trainers and strength and conditioning coaches. On the flip side, Division III programs are often more diverse than at Division I institutions.

Coaches play a huge role in the development of players, but mentorship from a variety of viewpoints and positions makes a big difference in long-term prospects for women wanting to pursue a career in athletics.


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