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Women’s Sports Foundation Continues to Close the Gender Gap in Coaching with the Tara VanDerveer Fund for the Advancement of Women in Coaching

Tara VanDerveer

The Women’s Sports Foundation announced the fourth class of grant recipients for its Tara VanDerveer Fund for the Advancement of Women in Coaching. Named for legendary Stanford University women’s basketball coach Tara VanDerveer, the Fund will provide a total of $200,000 to 10 colleges and universities for a coaching fellowship at each institution. This year’s cohort of WSF VanDerveer Fellows span from coast to coast, with school programs bringing the heat in all three NCAA Divisions, across five sports, and strength and conditioning.

In the 50 years since Title IX’s passage, the percentage of women in collegiate coaching roles has declined. In the 1970-71 academic year, 90% of all head coaches for women’s college teams were women. In 2021, women held only 41% of head coach positions in women’s NCAA sports. In the same year only 28% of all NCAA assistant coaches were women. Furthermore, BIPOC women are particularly under-represented in the coaching ranks, making up just 7% of head coaches of women’s sports, and only 7% of all assistant coaches for men’s and women’s teams.

The data clearly shows there is a lack of women in coaching positions at all levels of sport. WSF began awarding grants from the VanDerveer Fund in 2019 to change that at a collegiate level. Aspiring women coaches are able to jumpstart their careers and contribute to growing representation of women in the coaching space through the opportunities they receive from the Tara VanDerveer Fund. Hired by educational institutions that receive the grant, WSF VanDerveer Fellows receive mentorship from established collegiate coaches, hands-on-training and professional development resources.

“The Tara VanDerveer Fund gave me the necessary financial backing to dive deep into my greatest passion and to make a career out of something I never imagined possible,” said Fiona Walsh, WSF VanDerveer Fellow 2021-2022 and assistant women’s soccer coach at Clark University. “It allowed me to get my foot in the door as a collegiate coach, to build up my resume through professional development opportunities, and to network with other coaches around the country.”

Since its inception, the Fund has provided a total of $800,000 to 33 colleges and universities throughout the country, supporting 35 WSF VanDerveer Fellows across 11 different sports.

“Across all sports, women are underrepresented in positions of power and influence at senior leadership levels, including coaching,” said Danette Leighton, CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation. “WSF knows that glass ceilings are made to be broken. That’s why we’re proud to continue honoring Tara VanDerveer’s history-making legacy with this important Fund to encourage and support women whose dream is to lead the next generation of athletes.”

About Jerry Milani

Jerry Milani is a freelance writer and public relations executive living in Bloomfield, N.J. He has worked in P.R. for more than 30 years in college and conference sports media relations, two agencies and for the International Fight League, a team-based mixed martial arts league, and now is the PR manager for FAN EXPO, which runs pop culture and celebrity conventions across North America. Milani is also the play-by-play announcer for Caldwell University football and basketball broadcasts. He is a proud graduate of Fordham University and when not attending a Yankees, Rams or Cougars game can be reached at Jerry (at) JerryMilani (dot) com.

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