Since the passing of Title IX, the participation in sports for females has risen exponentially. Athletes have had the opportunity to participate in sports that before title IX they might not have had the opportunity to. Though society has seen many great strides towards equality in sports one area of the sporting world still finds itself grossly underrepresented by women. This is the area of coaching. Coaches are just as important as players to the organizations they represent and the teams they lead. In college sports, coaches can make millions of dollars a year with many more benefits coming from the school. A coach is seen as a job with a lot of importance both socially and to the organization. The coaches teach their players not only about the sport they play, but also values that will help them in their lives to come after the sport. When Title IX was first passed, 90% of all women’s team coaches were women. According to USA today, the number is now 40%. The NCAA is not the only organization with this problem. The Women’s National Basketball Association or WNBA, only has five women head coaches in the league even though it was a league started to further the participation of women in professional sports. The four major professional sports leagues in the United States, The NBA, MLB, The NHL, and The NFL, have zero female head coaches among their coaching ranks. One woman is doing her best to change that.
Becky Hammon is originally from South Dakota. While growing up there, she found a love for the game of basketball and began to excel at the sport while playing for her high school team. After high school, she found success as a member to the Colorado State basketball team where she set many school records before moving on and playing professionally. She played professionally in the WNBA for 16 seasons, played professionally overseas in Europe for many years as well, and played in two separate Olympics. She was named one of the top 15 players in WNBA history in 2011. Her resume when it comes to basketball knowledge is indisputable. The leadership she showed on and off the court as a basketball player made her the perfect candidate to coach basketball when her playing career came to an end in. She began to search for coaching jobs and found an opportunity where it might not have been expected.
In 2013, Becky was invited to be a coaching intern for the San Antonio Spurs while she rehabbed a knee injury. During her time with the team, she had a profound impact on head coach Gregg Popovich who saw her as a great basketball mind who could really help to strengthen his coaching staff. A year later, after she was officially retired for playing the sport, he asked Becky to join his coaching staff permanently. When asked what would make her a good coach and why he felt she would be so successful coaching at the highest level, Gregg Popovich had nothing but praise for her. “All the fundamentals that make you a good player are the same,” said Popovich. “It’s about the skills and the teaching of the skills. She passed every test.” She was hired by the Spurs on August 5, 2014 as the first full-time Female coach of one of the major sports in the USA. After her hiring, Popovich continued his praise for her by saying, “She Talks the game. She understands the game. So in that respect, I have no doubts that she’s going to be one heck of a coach.” With her hiring, she became the first full-time coach in a major American Sporting league. She received very high praise for many people including President Barrack Obama who tweeted his congratulations for her receiving the position and offered the insight that when “women succeed, America succeeds” as well.
When asked about the leadership role she was fulfilling, Hammon said this. “I do believe leadership knows no gender. Traditionally we have been taught to believe that leaders are only men and I think that’s why it is important that little boys and little girls see women as strong and capable.”
Becky Hammon continued to make history when the Spurs named her Head coach of their summer league team in 2015. The summer league consists of the team’s rising stars, draft picks, and younger players that play to learn the game, get noticed by the coaches, and try and make the regular season roster. She coached the team of up and coming stars to a victory in the summer league tournament, showing off the leadership skills that she possesses. Her talent as a coach is already impressing many sports reporters who speculate that she will be the first female NBA Head coach, which would continue her tradition of making history.
Ott, Tim. “Becky Hammon.” Biography.com. 2016. Accessed December 02, 2016. http://www.biography.com/people/becky-hammon.
Sports, Dana Hunsinger Benbow. “Why Has Number of Women Coaches Fallen since Title IX?” USA Today. 2015. Accessed December 02, 2016. http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/college/2015/02/23/women-college-coaches-title-9-ix/23917353/.
Russell, Jan Jarboe. “She Got GAME.” Texas Monthly, March 2015, 31-36.