Female coaches, mentors, and student-athletes from the Centennial Conference arrived at Muhlenberg this past Friday night for the Snell-Shillingford Coaching Symposium. The symposium is designed to educate young female athletes on the history of women in sports, acknowledge the importance of their accomplishments thus far, and empower them to continue their work professionally, whether that entails becoming a coach, administrator, or simply an advocate for the continuation of women’s athletics in our own communities.
Most of the athletes stayed in a hotel close by, but Alexandra Franck, Alex Bellini, Katy Mitton and I had the luxury of strolling into the first night with confidence in knowing that “Haas” is not an indication of a person excessively exhaling, and “Ettinger” [a building on campus] and “Eddinger” [head field hockey coach Megan] are indeed of different substance. After congregating for a quick introductory meal, we moved to the Friedman Family Conference room where the presentations began.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the presentations we experienced this weekend:
“Many Hats of Coaching:” Communicated by Muhlenberg’s own Alexa Keckler (head volleyball coach), athletes were educated on the different roles they will play if they are to become coaches, including specific advice associated with each role. The purpose was not to scare female athletes away from the profession, but rather prepare them for the many positions they will be asked to fill.
Did you know that female coaches are not only coaches, but they’re motivators, counselors, referees, artists, drill sergeants, mentors, P.R. extraordinaires, social directors, travel agents, lawyers, managers, fundraisers, jesters and humans all at the same time!? Whose head is spinning?
“Understanding Title IX and Its History:” This presentation was given by Amy Wilson, an individual who has worked closely with nationally recognized Title IX expert Dr. Christine Grant on gender equity issues in intercollegiate sport. Title IX, as most people know, is a law that was passed in 1972 by President Nixon, which states that “no person in the United States, shall on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
Although seemingly straightforward, Wilson reminds us that there are many little-known socio-historical factors that led up to the passage of this law and the history of its enforcement was a long, rollercoaster of a process. Yet today, Title IX is recognized as the source that changed the history of sports forever and allowed women to be relatively on the same playing field as men in athletics (no pun intended).
“Developing Your Coaching Philosophy:” As one of the last we experienced, this presentation allowed us to delve into our own values in order to determine what kind of coaches, administrators, mentors or advocates we are/may be in the future. The first step in developing a coaching philosophy, we learned, is to get to know ourselves: what rules do you live by? What can you control and what can’t you control? What coaches have shaped you and how?
Next, we learned that we should take a look into our objectives: why do you want to coach? What makes a good coach? What is your definition of success? Lastly, we had to get to know our context: What level do you want to coach? What position do you want to hold? What are the aims and philosophies of your school/conference organization? With the answers to these questions, student-athletes were able to have a better understanding of their own hopes and beliefs, which in turn, facilitates the development of a solid, personal coaching philosophy.
All in all, the experience was one that not only informed me about the steps it takes in potentially becoming a great coach, but also the steps it takes into becoming a better athlete and person. It was great to move off the field and meet people from our conference that may be opponents during the season, but are fun and interesting athletes who are strikingly similar to me (emphasis on the fun, if that’s the case).
I greatly appreciated the coaches and mentors for taking the time out to inform us/entertain us/cater to our cuisine-based needs throughout the entire weekend. I think Alexandra, Alex and Katy would agree with me in promoting this symposium to Muhlenberg female athletes for next year. If sports are a big part of your life, like mine, the benefits you can receive from this symposium are beyond what you could even imagine.
Think about it! If knowledge is power and influence is a snowball, this symposium can pump out a pretty awesome snow-based super-crew of talented, and well-informed, female coaches. But I digress …