In Texas highschool soccer, soccer coaches are a part of on a regular basis life
Jen Welter, Becky Hammon and Katie Sowers are pioneers.
Welter (Arizona Cardinals) was the first female coach in the NFL, while Katie Sowers (San Francisco 49ers) was the first female coach in a Super Bowl. Sowers is now with Kansas City, joining eight female assistants across the NFL.
Becky Hammon will sooner or later be the first NBA coach. She is the top assistant to the San Antonio Spurs and was coaching an NBA game when head coach Greg Popovich was banned from a game earlier this season.
Well, what about the Friday Night Lights in Texas, where high school football is legendary?
Yes, there are a few women scattered across the state, but it may be a handful. With high school coaching job boards bursting at the seams and the fact that the barrier for female coaches in men’s sports has been broken, this will become commonplace.
“Oh, it’s coming,” said UIL Athletics Director Dr. Susan Elza. “It’s becoming more and more of a hiring trend, but I hope it’s for the right reason.
Dr. Susan Elza, UIL Director of Athletics
“It’s not that I’m doing this to say I have a woman on the team or because the NFL does. No, we have a great coach here who happens to be a woman.” Trainer tells me that he is looking for an assistant trainer. I asked shouldn’t a trainer look for you? If a woman wants to train soccer, she should look for and apply for these jobs, not the other way around. “
Elza, a woman, was hired as the UIL’s first female director in 2017, and Houston is full of women at the level of Athletic Director in Vivian Dancy of Galena Park ISD, Debbie Decker of Katy ISD, Dena Scott of Fort Bend ISD, and Lamar Consolidated Nikki Nelson from the ISD. Marmion Dambrino from HISD and Debbie Fuchs from Clear Creek ISD have both retired but paved the way.
But there aren’t many coaches … yet.
“It’s funny, I’m kind of a woman in a traditionally male position,” said Elza. “When you’re in this position, you don’t want people to look at you like you got the job because you are a woman. I am there because I am qualified, be it my intensity or my attention to detail. “
The gender issue permeates all areas of the playing field. Elza stated that this season the UIL had their very first female referee in a state soccer championship game.
“It’s a big thing and great that women are getting these opportunities,” she said. “And for women who want to train men’s sports – be it soccer, basketball, baseball or soccer – I say do it. Even if you haven’t played this sport, head coaches will coach you so they can coach their children.
“We are at a time when decision-makers are more open to looking not at gender but at qualifications.”