It always used to baffle me how few women coach youth sports. It's estimated that just four to 10 percent of youth coaches are women. That is, until I was invited to be on a team of experts for Merck Consumer Care as part of their Active Family Project, an initiative to inspire families to live better through healthy habits and family activities.
Merck organized a think tank made up mostly of women and my role, as one of the experts, was to pick a topic that I thought would energize the attendees to get active.
Elisabeth Hasselbeck, formerly of The View, was the celebrity guest and I must say was a delightful speaker.
I was assigned a small group to speak to, but before doing so, Elisabeth gave the welcoming address. Much to my surprise, and delight I might add, Elisabeth focused most of her talk about why women should be more active and particularly why they should get out and be a coach in their kids' leagues. What a great setup for what I was to talk about in my small groups.
As I talked to the group of women and I told them how women would make better coaches than men, especially when it came to coaching kids below the age of nine, I received nothing but blank stares.
I stopped and said, "Well, I guess I'm talking to the wrong group because none of you seem interested. What's the problem?"
They all said that they felt intimidated because they knew nothing about coaching. When I said that most men out there coaching kids don't know anything about coaching either they didn't seem impressed.
I get it. Some women are intimidated being out on the field. Our nonprofit organization was created for the very reason to help all adults understand the role of being a coach and to tell them that it's not all about winning games, it's about caring for kids.
I left feeling I wasted my time. That is, until I received the follow up report from Milena Barrett, the owner of Be Your Best Mom and one of the people who were in the group:
I spent time listening to Fred Engh. Fred Engh is the founder and president of the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS), a nonprofit organization that has been committed to providing safe and fun sports for America's youth since 1981. He is also the founder and president of the International Alliance for Youth Sports (IAYS), the international arm of NAYS that he began in 2003 that works to build the value of sports worldwide and provide children in underprivileged regions with opportunities to learn and play sports that have never been available to them before. He was talking about starting a movement to encourage moms to be coaches. Most coaches for school age teams are male. Engh would like to see this change. He believes that under the age of 13 it's not 'real' sports. It's about socializing, learning the rules, how to be a good winner and a good loser. It's about nurturing a player. Engh feels that women would excel in the role as coach. Being a coach is more than just knowing how to play the game. I found him to be very inspiring and thought provoking.
Milena made my day!
It looks like my message did reach at least one mom. I hope that more moms will see their coaching potential and join the men along the sidelines.