Yeah! Natalie Randolph was named the head high school football coach for the Coolidge High School in Northwest Washington DC. Randolph comes to the position as an accomplished athlete with a great deal of “athletic capital”. She was a sprinter at the University of Virginia, and went on to play for the Divas of the Independent Women’s Professional League from 2004 to 2008.
This appointment is historic! While it would be hard to track down the exact statistics on the number of female head football coaches over time, I’m fairly sure the number would be very small. The data we do have shows that females comprise about 2% of coaches for boys’ teams, and when women do coach boys they are most often coaches of “non-revenue” sports such as swimming, track & field, or tennis. Additionally, when women coach boys must possess a high degree of athletic capital. While men are assumed to be competent coaches even if they have never really played the sport, female coaches must continually prove themselves competent. A woman who never played football would never be hired to coach, but there are many men who have been hired to coach a sport they never played or didn’t play at a high level.
So helmets off to Natalie Randolph! I would love to see more and more women play and coach football. Many women love the game just as much as men, but given they aren’t allowed to play when they want to, the pathway to coaching the game they love is blocked with insurmountable barriers. Congrats to Randolph for breaking some tackles and clearing the running route a little bit for those women who desire to coach football.