Does gender matter at the helm?

Charlotte Stephan

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Forest Hills Central athletics is driven by all of the hard work put in by both coaches and athletes. For many athletes, communication, strictness, and connections need to be formed so that they can perform to their coaches’ standards, but are any of these qualifications more difficult to obtain when your coach is of the opposite gender?

At FHC, there is a total of thirty-seven sports that are offered by our athletics department across the fall, winter, and spring seasons. Of that total, some sports are shared by the male and female genders such as track & field, bowling, wrestling, and skiing, while some sports are only offered to a specific gender such as football, field hockey, rugby, and gymnastics. At the freshman, JV, and varsity levels, boys skiing is the only sport that has a female head coach; however, in contrast, there are eleven female teams that are coached by a male head coach. Junior Jamison Sturtz has had experience with both male and female coaches in the sport of softball. While she has always been provided with great coaches, the coaches who she has had have all had different teaching styles, and she has learned that sometimes having a male coach can make it more difficult to connect with them.

“I feel that having a female coach makes it so the coach can connect with us more on a mental level which is important because softball is a very mental game,” Jamison said. “Having a coach of the same gender creates a certain comfort between the player and the coach.”

Sydney VanLente is a senior on the girls swim and dive team and has comparable thoughts with Jamison. She believes that although there is nothing wrong with having a male coach, she might find herself having a better connection with a female coach.

“One thing that I think would be different if we had a female coach would be how much I talk about my personal life,” Sydney said. “Having a female coach would make me feel more comfortable talking about my family and friends.”

Despite feeling restricted by the way they handle their emotions, these athletes have found the positive sides of having a male coach. Sometimes, having a male coach means less drama brought to a team, and sometimes it means you might be pushed a little bit harder than you would have been with a female coach. This is not always the case, but whatever the case is, these girls have found something that brings them motivation as they work towards their goals. 

“One thing I like about having a male coach is that they get more hype at our meets,” Sydney said. “They just always bring a lot of energy, and it helps get me ready to compete.”

Similarly to being open about your emotions, there are some other things about having male coaches that take some of the comforts away from our female athletes. Freshman Lexy Scarlato is a member of the girls JV basketball team and has been working with the softball team this winter. Both of these teams are coached by males and she expressed one thing she wishes could be different when it came to her training.

“While I don’t think it is a super big deal, I wish that we could take our shirts off in the weight room because it gets really hot in there, especially as the weather is getting nicer,” Lexy said.

In the end, it all comes down to an athlete’s preference and his or her willingness to trust in a coach of the opposite gender. If you are an athlete who prefers a coach who is direct and has an edge when delivering teachable moments, then you need a coach, regardless of gender, who fits this mold. However, you also need to set aside stereotypes and have a clear mind when being taught by a coach of the opposite gender. FHC has a myriad of coaches, both male and female, who are more than willing to motivate, encourage, and bring out the best in all student-athletes, and that is the most important element.