Female Coaches Who Are Leaving Their Mark in Sports

March is women’s history month, so let’s celebrate by highlighting women who are taking leadership roles in sports. Female coaches are seeing more success and gaining more recognition than ever. This is due to decades of hard work, perseverance, and success by women and their allies. Women aren’t just coaching female sports, either. Professional men’s teams are recruiting more women for coaching and support roles, and the impact is being felt at the highest levels.

Join me today as I explore the future of women in sports, and the women who are leading the way.

Gender Equality in Sports

Title IX is a federal civil rights law that was passed in 1972 because women needed more access to sports. The goal was to ensure equal access to sports and physical education opportunities for all. But Title IX had some unintended consequences.

Before Title IX, almost all the coaches in women’s sports were women. After it became law, there was more money available, and more coaching positions opened up, too. Title IX ensured girls had equal access to sports, but it did nothing to protect coaching positions. As more girls and women joined teams and played sports, many of the female coaches were replaced by men. The new positions that became available were also dominated by men. But that is now changing.

A group of female soccer players in red jerseys celebrating
Excited female soccer players celebrating (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Female coaches are not just making strides in women’s sports; they are making inroads in men’s sports. History was just made when Autumn Lockwood became the first black female coach in the Superbowl. Autumn has had a successful football career with many college and NFL teams. She accepted a position last year with the Eagles as an Assistant Sports Performance Coach.

Women haven’t been in coaching positions in the NFL for very long. In 2015, Jennifer Welter became the first female coach in the NFL, starting as an intern defensive coach. Welter has created a tradition of making history. In 2014, she was signed by the Texas Revolution, making her the first woman running back on a professional men’s football team. She went on to coach with the Texas Revolution and has been coaching professional football teams ever since.

The Future Includes More Women in Sports

Every day, more women and girls are becoming athletes and getting involved. Lori Locust joined a semi-pro football team in 2004 and rose to become team captain. In 2008 she was named MVP; in 2009, she switched to coaching after a career-ending knee injury.

Lori’s love of football led her to accept multiple coaching jobs at the same time. She coached high school football as well as a variety of men’s and women’s semi-pro teams for more than a decade. In 2018, she moved up to the big leagues when she interned for the Baltimore Ravens during their training camp. The next year she achieved new heights when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers recruited her as the first female position coach in NFL history.

Buccaneers organization helps advance women in sports | Football is Female S2E3 | NBC Sports

2019 was a building year for the Buccaneers, and they ended the season with a record of 7 wins and 9 losses. Lori helped the Buccaneers work out the kinks and demonstrate the potential of the struggling team. The Buccaneers reshuffled their staff and players in the 2020 season, keeping Lori and adding luminaries like Tom Brady as the quarterback. Their record improved to 11 and 5, and qualified for post-season play for the first time since 2007. On February 21st, 2021, Lori Locust and Maral Javadifar made history as the first female coaches to win a Superbowl.

Women Athletes Inspire Young Girls

Women are also making a splash as head coaches, adding to the number of inspirational role models for young girls. Felisha Legette-Jack has been coaching since 1993 when men still dominated coaching positions on women’s teams. Over the years, she demonstrated the intelligence and fiery determination necessary to be a winner at seven different schools. The Syracuse Orange program at Syracuse University showed their faith in her ability when they picked Felisha as the head coach.

In 2022, Natasha Adair led Delaware to an NCAA first-round appearance. On the strength of her performance and overall record, she has been chosen to replace Charli Turner Thorne as the head coach of the Arizona Sun Devils.

Natasha has had a life-long love affair with sports and athleticism. She was a track star in high school and led her team to win the Maryland state championship. She went on to participate in the Penn Relays Invitational, the oldest and largest track and field competition in the United States.

NBA Coach Becky Hammon A Trailblazer For Other Women Transforming The World Of Sports | NBC News

Natasha then switched to basketball, where she excelled and received national attention. Her resolve was tested after a severe injury that could have ended her career. She battled through treatment and rehabilitation, fighting her way up the ranks, and finally winning a position on the USF basketball team. Her single-season rebounding record still stands after more than 20 years.

After college, Natasha started her coaching career. She worked her way up the ladder at Georgetown and Wake Forest until accepting a position as head coach in 2012. She continued her winning tradition as head coach, earning recognition and acclaim at three different schools. Great things are expected from her now that she has accepted the head coaching position at one of the best teams in the country.

Women’s Equality in Sports

We should all take the time to recognize Women’s History Month and think about what we can do to advance the quest for equality. Women’s sports teams need your support. For women to make more rapid progress, more people need to cultivate an interest. Attending games, organizing watch parties, and buying merch are all fun and rewarding ways to support your local women’s sports programs.

Women's volleyball team on the ground celebrating after winning gold
Women’s Volleyball Gold Medal Match (Image Source: Shutterstock)

I recommend you head on over to your favorite social media platform and add some of these coaches and teams to your feed. Get involved and find players and personalities you identify with, and show them some love. You could even organize a watch party for a game and invite all your friends. Together, we can make a difference and help make sports a more vibrant and inclusive experience for everyone.