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It?s time for women to step up to the plate ? for the sake of their Little Leaguers (USA)


Kathy Wunderli was five months pregnant at her son?s first baseball practice when a Little League representative told the parents that if they wanted their kids to play, they?d need to find a coach on the spot ? no one had signed up for the job.

Kathy looked around, expecting someone to raise a hand. Still no one volunteered. So Kathy sighed, grabbed the equipment bag and stepped up.

I?m in, she said, in that moment doing what any mom would do given the risk of crushing a 5-year-old?s heart. But to say she was an unlikely coach is an understatement.

When it comes to coaching, dads dominate youth sports. Nationwide, moms make up only 13 percent of youth soccer coaches and 6 percent of baseball coaches.

Last year in Redondo Beach, nine of the 68 coaches were women, making the league good but not great. Plus, only two of those moms coached in the upper leagues.

Kathy?s trying to change that. Can women heft an equipment bag and wrangle a team of prepubescent athletes as well as the dads? You bet. Moms just need convincing.


So this year, Kathy, who?s coached her four boys through 10 years of baseball, is launching the Women?s Coaching Initiative in the Redondo Beach Little League to recruit more mom coaches.

When I heard about the initiative, something inside me stirred, and it wasn?t the usual dread of starting another baseball season with its endless schlepping to practices and fretting over snack bags. I actually felt excitement.

This was a way for me to really engage in my son?s baseball team, to have an activity we could do together, and, maybe, to get him a little more interested in the sport.

After all, I was there at practice anyway. Why not pick up a glove and join in? I may not have a major-league swing, but I?m sure I hit better than a 7-year-old. And how hard is it to lob grounders?

I gave Kathy a call to see how she came up with this idea.

Turns out, the push to get more women coaches is largely practical.


Every year, the Redondo Beach league struggles to find enough managers and assistant coaches to staff the roughly 50 teams. I know, because every year I get the panicked email before opening day, recruiting, cajoling and threatening parents to volunteer.

When half the parent population bows out ? as do most women ? that makes it even harder to fill the slots. Getting more women to sign up broadens the volunteer pool, Kathy says.



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