I am, in the mainstream, truly accepted as a coach – and as a head coach. I am accepted as just another coach at conventions and coaching clinics, even though I am usually the only female coach present. The nice aspect is the fact that more people know of me than I do of them! I have been asked for my opinions on coaching football, and have been asked for advice on coaching both males and females. And this leads me to ask, am I in the minority for my standing as a coach?
I attended a convention in 2015, where an NFL coach was speaking, and he really was impressed at my being there – shocked, but impressed. We still speak now, I still ask for his advice, and he gives it without prejudice. The advice is just as technical as his knowledge, and at times I do ask him to explain, and he does to the best that he can. He is never demeaning, or sarcastic – as he understands that my five years’ worth of knowledge is probably less than he has forgotten! And if this coach, who has coached for many years at the top of the sport, in the home of the sport, can share his knowledge with a coach who admits to still learning, then why can’t a player ask an honest question and me give a truly honest answer? I did give an honest answer, and would always be honest about my coaching.
There is a growing number of female coaches in the game of American Football, although in the mainstream they stay in the women’s game. This is no bad thing – as, in my view, women need other women as role models. If the only coaches you ever see are men, then the issue of positive role models rears its head. If you start playing football with a female coach, then that coach becomes who you will one day become yourself, if and when you decide to become a coach. I was taught to be a coach – I was mentored by one of the best teachers and coaches in the field. Mary was highly regarded in swimming and in hockey; she was one of those people that demanded respect, not through fear, but through her manner and her way of sharing knowledge.
When I turned to football, I was mentored by my then Head Coach Alan, who became one of my dearest friends and confidants. Since then I have followed the advice and total leadership of someone I am proud to call a friend and mentor, Jon. These three people have shaped who I am as a coach, how I think, and how I approach things. My wish for the future is that I am able to become this to another coach, to someone that I have either coached or coached alongside. That I can be as much of a role model and mentor as the three that I am lucky to have had in my life. I want other women to know that coaching this sport is not out of their reach, but well within their grasp.
It’s up to us coaches now to inspire the next generation, to teach the girls that nothing is beyond them, and to teach the boys the same thing. We need to show the next generation of coaches that gender should not be a consideration, that you get this job on your merits, not on your gender – positive discrimination is still discrimination. None of us want to think that we got a position because we are women and only because of that reason. We want to get that position on what we know, and how we present ourselves. But to dismiss the idea of hiring the best person for the job based solely on their gender, is something that should not be present in modern society.
Change is happening. In my mind, we as female coaches are in a unique position as trailblazers and role models – not an easy ride, but if this makes the open and honest conversation happen, and progress and change happen, then we are those trailblazers, we are those role models. And we are the best that we can be.
FCN American Football Co-ordinator:
Sarah Jauncey is an American Football Coach from the UK. From the glitz and glamour of multi-million dollar franchises in the US, Sarah coaches the sport in much more humble settings. Sarah is the Head Coach of her local team and the only female coach in the GB set up. To find out more about Sarah, read our exclusive interview with her HERE
Sarah’s role is to lead the creation of a Global network of female American Football coaches. To contact Sarah please email: email@example.com