Women need to play larger role in county's high school athletics


January 31, 1996|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

With tomorrow being "National Girls and Women in Sports Day," it must be noted that gender inequity in high school coaching and administrative positions is alive and, unfortunately, well.

Anne Arundel County has 12 public high schools with 12 male athletic directors. About 25 percent of the coaches are women.

County stadiums and fields have been named after high school principals, coaches, students and even a custodian (Cecil Rhodes Stadium at Chesapeake High), but no women have ever received such an honor.

It took the Anne Arundel County Coaches Association (more aptly the County Men's Club) 15 years before making a woman the recipient of the Steve Carroll Award that was first presented in 1979.

In honor of the late Arundel High AD and coach, the award is given for outstanding service to interscholastic athletics. One year after she retired as an assistant county coordinator of physical education, Jean Boyd was the Carroll Award winner in 1993.

Yes, it's still a man's world in Anne Arundel County, but please, don't blame it all on the guys.

Give the women credit for being smarter than the men who serve as athletic directors. Why would a woman want such a thankless job where the athletic directors receive part-time pay for full-time work?

The duties of the athletic director can't be performed properly in a couple of planning periods.

As Arundel High athletic director Bernie Walter once said, "We are type A personalities, which means we want things done the right way. That creates stress, along with the 15-hour days and weekends most of us have to work to do the job right."

Stress and poor health can be the results of taking the job home, and over the last decade several athletic directors have found out. Two former athletic directors have died and three more encountered heart problems.

In 1985, eight of the then 13 public high school athletic directors also coached at least one sport. With the job becoming more demanding, just six of 12 currently coach.

Athletic director is a prestigious title, but an otherwise unattractive position. And just maybe that's why women don't line up when there is a vacancy.

The real crux of the problem is the lack of women coaches and I think it's unfair to blame that on male egos as some school board members and administrative types have.

Male coaches and athletic directors certainly could make more of an effort to recruit female coaches, but at the same time, women need to make more of an effort and sacrifice, if necessary, to get involved.

The time has come for women interested in coaching to be more aggressive.

With many female teachers working in elementary and middle schools, getting to practice and games on time can be a problem. It discourages many women from coaching.

Why couldn't the county school system survey all faculty members to find out who is interested in coaching and where possible arrange their schedules for free periods at the end of the day so they could arrive on time?

Include men in the survey as well, so that some of them who also have been discouraged because of school schedules could get a chance. There are many quality people not coaching.

We need more women coaches and more men who are teachers to replace the emergency coaches because it is county policy to give teachers coaching priority.

The county could add at least 12 female coaches in a hurry simply by making cheerleading a sport instead of an extracurricular activity. How can anyone watch cheerleading routines and not see the incredible athletic abilities of the girls (and some guys)?

A state tournament for cheerleaders is not that far off and acceptance of cheerleading as a sport can only fuel the crusade for more women coaches.

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