James has been involved with the FCN since it was launched in 2014, as the long time assistant coach of the FCN founder Vicky. With 15 years experience in strength and conditioning and nutrition, James has worked alongside Vicky to support her Track athletes and worked with many individuals to help them reach their own goals in sports performance and fitness. He has been working hard in the background to support the delivery of many of the FCN projects and is a big advocate for coaching equality, ensuring he brings a balanced view to the FCN’s aim of increasing coaching diversity.
James attended the FCN conference to support the workshop deliverers and lend a hand for the day. Below are his thoughts about his experience of being the only male coach in attendance:
“As a male who has been involved with the FCN from the very beginning I have always held my hand up and said:
I will try my hardest to appreciate the prejudice female coaches feel in varying ways but as a man without that experience I can never truly understand, no matter how much compassion I feel. It would be naive of me to believe I can.
I have very much enjoyed my roles within the FCN, giving another perspective to the website and being a part of some of it’s projects (largely in the background), to make sure the balance is right and to try and make a difference as best as I can.
What struck me as interesting however was this Saturday. This was this was the first time I was in the minority, I was literally the only man in the room. Now I must say I met some lovely people, some of you took the time to come up and say hello, and I was extremely grateful for those that did. What I did experience, without at the time realising it, was as close to the understanding I could have felt with many of the female coaches in the room.
I’ve attended many conferences and seminars mainly regarding nutrition (my passion) and I do notice that the vast majority of attendees are male (however nutrition courses do seem to have a little more gender balance in fairness). I love meeting people and can be quite extroverted in certain situations, I introduce myself, strike up conversations, insight small talk and sometimes need to learn to shut up! It’s in my nature, it’s who I am. But in this environment I did feel the minority, I didn’t feel comfortable going around introducing myself, I wasn’t my normal self and it was only on reflection that I realised it was being the minority that almost introverted me. Another factor was being unsure if their were attendees that weren’t keen on my presence (I didn’t experience this by the way) and so from probably fear of rejection I didn’t impose on others – again a feeling I am sure all female coaches have experienced.
I don’t want this to read as me saying ‘I get it’ – I couldn’t, my being the minority in the room is just the tip of the iceberg compared to the many stories I heard this weekend and over the years with the FCN. However it did give me more perspective, it did heighten my already strong compassion and it did make this event that little more special that not only did it educate the females in attendance but it also educated the lone male.
Thank you all for coming, thank you all for supporting the FCN and if you didn’t this time, come and say hello next time!”