While I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a feminist, I do think there are certain things that coaches of female-athletes must talk to their athletes about. I don’t mean sit them down at a team meeting and talk, but it can be an in the bus talk or a between tournament games talk… you know, casual.
What are those things? Title IX for one. This is a great time to do it because it’s the fortieth anniversary of the amendment this year. I’ve found that women don’t understand that we didn’t always have fancy pants uniforms and stay at nice hotels like the guys. We didn’t always even have the same access to athletic facilities… our women need to know and appreciate these things.
As coaches, we’re trying to prepare our athletes for the next stage… of athletics and of life, so that’s where these other three things come in. With the goal always being creating a group of young women who are so informed and confident that they’re ready to take over the world (seriously!), here are three areas where we can affect their growth.
3 things we should try to teach our female-athletes
- It’s okay to talk about being a woman. Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook and was recently named the first woman to its board. Beyond all of her amazing accomplishments, she’s been quite vocal about being a business woman. You can click here to hear her great TEDtalk. She says that early on she felt that she shouldn’t focus on the differences and that she was actually counseled to not talk about it. In the past, I had similar reservations about talking to my team about female specific issues. Now, I feel that I’m doing them a disservice if I don’t talk to them about it.
- There can be work/life balance. Life is all about choices. I give private lessons to a Division One athlete who says that I should move up to that level. I’ve gotten numerous calls from folks at bigger and higher level institutions than mine and my answer is always the same: I’m happy here. I’m not saying all of this to toot my own horn, but to show our players that they have a choice. Luckily I’ve got plenty of people to use as examples for my team: myself… I’ve chosen to stay at a manageable level for myself. But I’ve also got friends who are higher up corporate big-wigs who have families (and probably a lot more money than me!) and love their life. We’ve also got to let our players know that not wanting it all is okay too. But they should be warned, there’s no work/life balance for a stay-at-home mom… it’s work/work balance!
- Women are good enough. My sister-in-law is a big shot with a major corporation and is in charge of leading hundreds, if not thousands, of people. One of the things she’s talked to me about since I was in college is that women don’t advocate for themselves. She would tell me about entering the negotiation process with women and not having to do much, even though she had additional thousands available to offer, because women just take what is offered. Whereas men would negotiate for salary, stock options, and vacation time. She’s not alone, check out this post about negotiating salary. I tell my players this story because I want them to understand that they’re not being rude by negotiating… it’s expected!
This post was inspired by this great article about Sheryl Sandberg, Sheryl Sandberg’s lessons on women and success, check it out!