Over the last half century, Title IX and other initiatives have proven very effective in increase participation of women in sport. But despite the growth in participation, the number of women in the coaching ranks lag behind and is even regressing in many sports. On this episode of the podcast we look at women in coaching with Duke head cross country coach Rhonda Riley. We dive into some of reasons why women are not well represented in coaching, as well as ways to fix the problem. In addition, we look at the profession of coaching as a whole and some of the issues it is facing in other areas.
Notes and quotes
Coach Riley has been head women’s cross country coach at Duke University since 2016. Prior to that she worked as a coach at Vanderbilt University, Arizona State University, and Oregon State University.
We kicked off the episode by looking at the current state of women in coaching, before diving into some of the issues behind the problem and exploring Riley’s own path into coaching as an example of the power of mentorship. Near the end of the episode we also looked Riley’s own coaching philosophy and advice for our male listeners.
- 6:00 – Assessing the current landscape of women in coaching.
- 10:00 – Dealing with stereotypes.
- 12:15 – Riley’s own path to coaching.
- 14:30 – The role of mentorship. “Mentorship is key and it shouldn’t just be females mentoring females. We can learn from anybody. “
- 17:00 – Recruiting coaching talent and finding role models: “Women make up half the athletes in the world. If we aren’t actively recruiting them into coaching, then we are losing out on a big coaching talent pool. “
- 18:30 – Breaking into coaching as a non-elite athlete and paying your dues: “If you get your foot in the door, you better back it up and show you deserve to be in that position. “
- 22:00 – Role models and senior roles for women.
- 23:30 – Lessons from Caryl Smith Gilbert.
- 26:00 – The coaching lifestyle.
- 27:30 – Getting exposure by presenting and writing: “Women need to speak more and not just speak about culture or work/life balance, but about technical topics. Women often aren’t the ones getting up there to talk about training and the technical aspects of what they do. “
- 32:00 – Rhonda as a coach: “Get to know your athletes on a personal level and on an individual level. That starts at the high school level: learn what made them successful to be on you team. “
- 37:00 – Other mentors and influences: “Each university has such resources and they are right down the halfway. Take advantage and pick their brain even if it was a different sport. “
- 39:45 – Tips for men: “If you have a female coach on your staff, get to know them and be encouraging, it can go a long way. “
To hear more on these topics, listen to the full episode above. Also be sure to subscribe to our podcast and review it on iTunes.
The following links were referenced in the podcast or provide some additional reading material on the topic:
- Join HMMR Plus so you don’t miss all the content on our site, including past episodes of the podcast, our deep article archives, video library, and more. If you like the podcast, don’t miss our latest book Training Talk: Conversations with a Dozen Master Coaches for more in-depth insights on training from some of the world’s top coaches.
- You can learn more about Riley’s background on Duke’s webpage. You can also follow Riley on Twitter (@coachrriley1), Instagram (@Dukewomensdistance) and Facebook.
- You can learn more about some of the work Riley is doing on the topic with USTFCCCA here.
- For more on the topic of connecting with high school coaches during the recruiting process, listen to the great interview with high school sprint coach Tony Holler on the Coaching Running podcast.
- Tracy Fober, our guest on Episode 125, put together a great post on the topic last summer.
- Some more resources recommended by Riley: the Game on series, the Tucker Center report on women’s coaching.