Today’s post is Part 2 of our special series for National Girls & Women in Sports Day! Be sure to check out Part 1 for more tips on getting girls involved in sports at your Club, plus information on how to get supplies to start a girls flag football league.
Did you know that less than 10% of sports media covers women’s sports?
That’s right – the sports world is filled with amazing female athletes and coaches, but without balanced media attention, girls may not have a chance to hear about them. It can also create a perception that girls don’t belong in sports, and we all know that’s not true!
By showing that women play important roles in sports, we can help shift those attitudes and encourage girls to participate in athletics. While we can’t change the media coverage, Clubs can take steps to increase members’ exposure to females in sports and give them role models to look up to.
Having female coaches is key to engaging girls in sports, especially those who may not feel as comfortable in the gym or on the field. Having famous role models is great too, but coaches are essential to help provide everyday support and encouragement. Having a woman in a leadership role is inspiring – it can help girls imagine themselves in that position and see what’s possible for women in sports.
BGCA had the honor of speaking with Lluri Coria, Athletics Coordinator at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dundee Township to discuss the importance of female coaches. “For me, it helps with the recruiting of female players because they build the courage to participate if they see other females doing it,” Coria said. “I have also learned that moms enjoy seeing other women coaching and teaching their daughters.”
Just as there are barriers to getting girls involved in sports, there can be challenges to getting females involved in coaching. But Coria has seen success with the following techniques to recruit and fill her program’s coaches with women:
- Reach Out to Current Staff – Coria encourages any female part-time staff to volunteer as coaches. These are women who are already familiar with the Club and its members, so it can be a seamless transition.
- Promote to Player’s Families – Add a volunteer sign-up space on the player applications or include a call for coaches on flyers. Family members may not even know coaching is an option. “Usually a mom, aunt, or sister of a participant is happy to help out on a team,” Coria said.
- Keep the Conversation Going – Coria has been able to retain a lot of her coaches simply by keeping in touch during the off-season and reaching out when opportunities present themselves. “That might be free basketball tickets to our local team the Windy City Bulls, open gym opportunities to come and scrimmage with their teams and parents, or friendly games against other local Boys & Girls Clubs.”
Anyone with the right attitude and energy can be a great coach. They don’t need previous experience, and it’s ok if they weren’t the star athletes of their high school. BGCA has partnered with the Positive Coaching Alliance to provide FREE online coaches’ training so that all coaches or volunteers have access to the tools and resources they need to create a memorable experience for themselves and their members. Coaches who are interested can register using the code BGCA2019 at https://www.positivecoach.org/ALLSTARS.
The impact of a coach can stay with someone for a lifetime. Mobolaji Akiode is a former basketball player and currently serves as the NBA’s Youth Basketball Development Program Officer. Even though it’s been years since she joined a basketball team at age 13, Akiode still remembers the influence of her coach, Johanna Wright (aka Mama Wright.) “She was funny, inspiring, cool and connected with us on an emotional level,” Akiode said. “To her, it wasn’t just about building the best basketball team in the state, which by the way she did year after year, it was about building a community of girls and developing us into great young women.”
After her first tryout, Akiode didn’t think she’d come back for the second day, but because of Wright’s leadership, she changed her mind. It wasn’t about becoming a great basketball player, it was about becoming part of a team and making friends. “Thanks to Coach Wright, I achieved that and so much more,” Akiode said. “She was a mentor, a friend, a disciplinarian, and our team chef…the lessons she instilled in me will shape the way I choose to live the rest of my life.”
Now Akiode is working to pass that same inspiration on to other girls to get them involved in sports. And Boys & Girls Club coaches can do the same! As more girls continue to have positive experiences in athletics, they can become future role models and show others how great it is to be part of a team.
How does your Club encourage women to get involved in coaching? How do you encourage girls to participate in sports? Comment below, on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page, or email ClubXBlog@bgca.org to share your best tips!