How is the only high school female football coach doing?

Last May there was a lot of media coverage about Natalie Randolph, who was hired as the Head Football Coach for Coolidge High School in Washington DC. This fall she and her team are back in the media as the team’s results are being scrutinized. Currently the team is 0-3. My point is not to highlight the team’s record, but to highlight that THIS team’s record is getting national media attention where the many other football teams across the country which are also 0-3 are not.

Coach Natalie Randolph

Randolph should be celebrated, not scrutinized. While her on field results in terms of W/L record is a losing one, there are other outcomes that should be considered, but are often overlooked:

1. Her presence may allow females who love the game to consider playing and coaching football as a viable option. Many girls and women love football just as much as men, but given they 0ften are discouraged or aren’t allowed to play when they desire to, the pathway to playing and coaching the game they love contains many barriers.

2. I’m certain seeing and experiencing a female football coach has provided the opportunity for the young men on her team (and community members) to challenge the stereotypes some likely have about women, leadership, coaching and football.

3. From her interviews and feedback of those familiar with the program, it sounds like she is teaching her team both football and life skills simultaneously , and that is all that we can hope for and ask of any high school coach.

Women coach boys must possess a high degree of athletic capital to coach football or male athletes in general. In fact only 2% of all coaches of male athletes are female, a statistic that has remained remarkably stable even 38 years after Title IX which drastically increased the number female sport participants and the sport expertise of females. Randolph possesses a great deal of athletic capital as a former D-I athlete, professional football player in the WPFL, and assistant high school football coach–experiences which afforded her the opportunity and consideration for the job.  While men are assumed to be competent coaches even if they have never really played the sport, female coaches must continually prove themselves competent above and beyond their male colleagues. It is unlikely a female 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.

The interesting issue to me in the media coverage of Randolph’s coaching debut is the implicit assumption that effective football coaching resides on the Y-chromosome. No where in the coaching science literature have I read this, but it is a common belief nonetheless. If this assumption is true, then there must be quite a few male football coaches missing the Y-chromosome because their teams have losing records too! While I doubt the  floodgates for women to coach football are going to burst open wide, I hope Randolph’s presence will help challenge and change some outdated thinking patterns.

3 Replies to “How is the only high school female football coach doing?”

  1. Stereotypes should be broken, I agree. I also concer with your silver lining theory, but this woman has no coaching experience. Though it would be nice to see some barriers broken and have a feel good story behind it, but the things of which you speak will only be gleened if the team wins. Without a winning record, I fear the reality of the situation will take over and this experiment will end in a debacle.

    If ever you hear a head coach say to the players “I don’t give a blank about football”…..Run!

    What about the kids? If I were trying to be seen by recruiters in order to get a few dollars towards education, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want the athetic department using my team to make a political statement. Especially with a coaching staff that besides one coach has very little experience.

    Good luck though

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  2. Mam,
    Ms. Randolph was a receiver coach for two seasons at the high school level. Most coaches pay “dues” before they get a top job as head coach. Many more qualified coaches were stepped over and on in order to put Ms. Randolph in her new position. This is a political publicity stunt aimed at help some other people by trying to make a big splash and “make history”. Well it’s making a splash alright, but I’m sure this is not what they expected.
    We are talking about high school football. This is a results based business. You win and good things happen for your school. Winning programs attract talent, improve school moral, brings more money into the program via alumni and create fabulous high school memories for participants. Football is used by coaches to teach life lesson to kids. A head coach should never say to the players that they care nothing about football which I’ve heard Ms. Randolph say in several interviews. Of course, we all want to turn out the best student/atheletes as possible, with the emphasis on student. Virtually all coaches want great students to be playing for them.
    This hasn’t a thing to do with gender. I’m all for gender equality. There is no reason why a women can’t coach football or any other sport for that matter, but let them do it the same way men do, through the ranks. If you want to talk gender, lets have a chat about the poor state of female athletics in the DCIAA.

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