During the excitement of the Olympics and whilst we were all celebrating the achievements of some incredible female coaches, we received this email. A stark reminder of how far we are still yet to go for the fight for true equality and attitudes towards women who coach…
“A few months ago, I tweeted Female Coaching Network about a grievance I had regarding one of my male athletes. One of your Twitter representatives responded with an email address and asked if I was interested in writing about my experience. I never responded because I could only think, “I don’t want to make a big deal of it. It doesn’t matter anyways.” After becoming increasingly confident in who I am as a female coach, I cannot justify that kind of thinking anymore. I have to care enough about myself to advocate for myself, and it does matter.
I am a volunteer weightlifting coach at a small, private college in the southeast U.S. for a club team. Training, competing, and coaching weightlifting are what I do in my free time for enjoyment. I am also a graduate student in training to be a mental health counselor. Most of the athletes I coach in this setting are college-aged males.
The grievance that I initially tweeted about was something to the effect of this: It is angering when a male athlete argues with me about a coaching critique, but when a male coach tells him the same thing, he listens without question. This has happened to me multiple times in multiple locations. There has been another instance where a male coach (with much less experience than me) walked behind me to athletes after I gave them a critique and told them something different thereby completely undermining my coaching. I am pretty certain that I am not toting a “hey please come trample on my expertise with your misogyny” sign on my back, so I am going to take a gander at this assumption: I don’t think it’s me; I think it is the culture of (some) males having a sense of superiority in athletics–especially in a sport like weightlifting.
I do my best to not get into a power struggle with these athletes and coaches. Power struggles don’t sound like an effective method for coaching. Instead, I aim to respect the athletes I coach and coaches I work with, but I also expect respect in return. This reciprocity is very hit or miss, unfortunately. Even when I am coaching and telling athletes something that is a normal coaching cue or critique, sometimes (depending on the athlete) it is perceived as me just trying to tell them what to do. I continue to find myself in these situations, and it is extremely frustrating. However, I will continue my course and do my best. After all, it is their loss for not being receptive of help in the first place.”
We have since got in touch with this coach and hoping to bring you more blogs and developments about her story. If you have any words of advice for her, please feel free to comment below, or email us at email@example.com