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Kim Dismuke will be the first female head coach for a USA Track & Field (USATF) men’s national team (USA)

Female coaches in charge of high-level collegiate, high school and international teams remain a small percentage in the sports world. In fact, only 2 to 3.5 percent of collegiate male teams have female coaches, a decrease since the passage of Title IX in 1972, according to a?2014 report.

Kim Dismuke is defying those numbers and making her mark on the world of track and field. She will be the first female head coach for a USA Track & Field (USATF) men’s national team when she takes the U20 delegation to Tampere, Finland, in July for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships.

“Kim was the best qualified coach for the job. She’s enthusiastic, committed and has the experience necessary,” says Ed Gorman, USTAF associate director of championships and programs.

Dismuke’s appointment is noteworthy, not only because she’ll be heading the men’s team, but the U20 team, one of the most important for USATF. It’s from the U20 team that many future Olympians and world champions arise, so her skillset will have an impact on the international stage.

A lifelong athlete and runner, Dismuke stood out from the start growing up in the Chicago suburbs. “I was always that girl who beat all the guys at field day,” she laughs. “I played just about every sport available to me from junior high on: softball, soccer, track, volleyball. Anything offered, I did it.”

While she was good at all the sports in which she participated, it was track and field where she caught a coach’s eye. “My junior high school coach saw my running talent and started pointing me in that direction,” Dismuke, 51, explains. “I still remained a three-sport athlete in high school, though.”

On the track in high school, Dismuke preferred the 200 and 100 meter, but her coach nudged her toward the 400.

“I fought it, but I also took on cross country so that I could improve at longer distances,” she says. “In college, I moved on to the 400 while still doing some 100s and 200s and a little bit of jumping, too.”

While running was always a part of her life, coaching didn’t fall onto her radar until much later. “I was very focused on becoming an FBI agent,” she says. “I was an accounting major because at the time, the FBI needed accountants. Unfortunately, I discovered I didn’t like accounting.”

She ran for five years at Illinois State University, following two injuries and a red shirt, and moved into the insurance industry upon graduation, still holding on to her FBI dream. A serious car accident a few years later, however, ensured working at the bureau wouldn’t be in her future.

“I’m right handed and injured my right shoulder, losing about 50 percent of my range of motion,” Dismuke explains.

Fate intervened soon after at the hair salon. “I was having a conversation that a high school assistant principal overheard,” says Dismuke. “She (Brenda Davis) asked if I’d like to volunteer at the school. I left my insurance job, taking a pay cut, because I wanted to work at the high school in social work and coaching,” she says. “I fell in love with coaching.”



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