Would be coaches, regardless of gender, at Western Michigan University prior to getting their start on the sideline, begin their work in a WMU classroom.
Professor Ray Cool of Western Michigan University teaches Coaching Theory courses in which students get their first experience as to what it takes to become a coach. At least half of the class of roughly a dozen students tend to be female, said Cool.
Ashley Cross and Tara Charvat are two aspiring female coaches enrolled in Cool’s course. Cross could potentially see herself coaching male sports. One of her inspirations is Becky Hammon, one of the first full-time female assistant coaches in the National Basketball Association.
Charvat, whose passion is in dance and gymnastics, said she would not feel as comfortable coaching all male sports.
“There is potential for a higher lack of respect. I feel as though I would have to increase my power and truly show my dominance around an all-male group,” said Charvat.
Women represent 43 percent of coaches of collegiate women’s sports, only 4.2 to 3.5 percent of coaches of men’s sports and 22 percent of athletic directors, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation.
Women typically coach women’s athletics, and women’s athletics are not funded as well as male athletics. This causes a critical wage gap. For example there is an apparent gap at WMU.
A female coach’s salary will range from $47,500 to $166,650 and a male coach’s salary will range from $49,995 to $225,000. Female sports at Western Michigan brought $6.1 million when male sports doubled that by bringing in $14.1 million in total revenue for the 2014-2015 sporting season, according to Western Michigan University Athletic Institution Data.
“Dedication, motivation, all the T-I-O-N’s” are all important qualities a coach possess, said Cool. “You’re not doing it for the money, entry level positions are low salary usually and they are doing it because they love the sport and they enjoy the interaction of teaching, motivating, success and challenge of sports in general.”
Receiving a paycheck is not the driving force behind the women’s motivation to coach.
“I got such joy out of participation in these sports and want to accurately train growing athletes in order for them to succeed and reach their highest potential just as I did. I believe it is important to train athletes to be passionate about their sport and help them to be eager and attentive,” said Charvat.
Coaching is not just a job while on the field, but off the field as well.
Cross who has a love for the game, grew up playing basketball as a child and participated all 4 years in high school.
“All of my coaches outside of basketball, helped me grow as a person and I would like to help other people that way,” said Cross.
Sophia Rattray, Assistant Director of Intramural Sports at WMU, has a passion for coordinating sports at the recreation center. Rattray played both volleyball, which was coached by a female and basketball, which was coached by a male. Her volleyball coach was not as tough on the athletes as her male coach counterparts were. Rattray said she gained more from the males in the long run.
Being a female in the sporting industry, Rattray appreciates when students will come to her asking for her sports expertise.
Women athletics were affected by Title IX, which initially came into effect in 1972, to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. This eventually led to a change for women coaches as well.
Heather Dichter, Assistant Professor of Sports Management at WMU, said how Title IX affected women coaches.
“Title IX, and with it the dollar value of coaching contracts, has contributed to the change in the gender of coaches of women’s sport. Over 90% of the coaches of women’s teams in the early 1970s, when Title IX passed, were women. By the mid-1980s that number was down to approximately half, and is around 40% today,” said Dichter
Despite a drop in the amount of female coaches, they are making moves to male sports as high schools in Florida, Washington D.C and Tennessee all have hired a head female football coach. However, the gender of the coach is not the most important aspect.
“Athletes are different in what motivates each of them and therefore it is the personality of each coach and each athlete that matter in finding the best fit rather than the gender of the coach,” said Dichter.