The Women’s Sports Foundation announced Tuesday its inaugural class of grant recipients to receive support from its new Tara VanDerveer Fund for the Advancement of Women in Coaching. A total of $200,000 has been awarded to 10 universities and colleges to support a female coach on the rise, assisting with living expenses, professional development and mentorship.
The awarded schools hail from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I, II, and III, as well as schools from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The institutions will use funding to support coaching fellows across a myriad of women’s sports including field hockey (Saint Anselm College), wrestling (Life University), basketball (Carroll College, Moravian College, UC Merced), volleyball (Cal State San Bernardino, Wellesley College), softball (Villanova University, Williams College) and strength and conditioning (Bryn Mawr College).
“I’m thrilled for the Women’s Sports Foundation’s launch of this inaugural class of female coaching fellows,” Stanford’s Hall of Fame women’s basketball coach Tara VanDerveer said. “I’ve seen a lot of positives over my career in advancing women in sport, but the continued decline of female coaches is concerning. This program is a powerful way we can help reverse this trend. Providing avenues for women to pursue coaching is something that is very important to me and I am deeply honored that the WSF chose to set up this fellowship program in my name. I am excited to see the impact it will have on empowering tomorrow’s leaders.”
WSF created the VanDerveer Fund to address the alarming decline of women in coaching. In the 1970-71 academic year, 90% of all head coaches for women’s college teams were women. By 2017, 45 years after the passage of Title IX, women’s share of these positions in women’s NCAA sports had dropped to 40%. While women’s representation as head and assistant coaches of women’s sports can vary by sport, this under-representation is systemic and cannot be attributed to just one sport or division.
Women of color are particularly under-represented in the coaching ranks, making up just 5.6% of head coaches of women’s sports, and only 3.5% of all head coaches, men’s and women’s teams as reported by NCAA in 2017.
“The lack of female coaches is so alarmingly evident across all levels of education – from youth sports to high school and to the collegiate and professional levels,” said WSF CEO Deborah Antoine. “A coach is often one of the most important adults in a young person’s life, outside of their family, and the lack of female coaches and mentors has far-reaching consequences for the development of girls. Our Foundation felt it imperative to address this head-on, and who better to honor than the extraordinary Tara VanDerveer.”
Inspired by VanDerveer, WSF designed the Fund to honor her legacy by providing schools with the opportunity to create fellowships for aspiring female collegiate coaches, giving them the support needed to jumpstart their careers. The fellowships will emphasize hands-on training and mentorship with established collegiate coaches as well as professional development and networking in order to identify paths to advancement.