Few women on the sidelines

Few women on the sidelines

by Scott Schleisman


Throughout Simpson’s athletic department, there is a general theme. Women don’t get hired as coaches, assistant coaches or athletic trainers as often as men. Simpson only has one female head coach for the 18 sports the college offers although nine of those sports are women’s.

“We always hire the best candidate for the job,” Athletic Director John Sirianni said.

Sirianni said he would like to see the college bring in more role models for women in sports.

Volleyball coach and senior women’s administrator Lana Smith agreed.

“The athletic department will not simply hire more women to fill quotas,” Smith said. “They hire to increase the role models for young women.”

Simpson actively pursues coaching openings when they become available. Sirianni believes Simpson shouldn’t limit its choices to those who apply for coaching positions, but that the college should pursue the best candidates for the job – even when they don’t apply.

“In our hiring practices, we have called the Iowa High School Girls Athletic Union; Lisa Bluder, the University of Iowa’s head women’s basketball coach and Bill Fenlon, DePauw University’s all-time winningest men’s basketball coach to generate ideas for the best applicants,” Sirianni said. “We don’t just ask around for women, we ask around for the best.”

In today’s sports world, women don’t have the records to be considered the best for many athletic jobs. Smith said those numbers are changing slowly but surely.

“The Iowa Conference has started developing coaching programs to help women get the experience to become head coaches,” Sirianni said.

In some Iowa Conference schools, women make up 25 percent of the coaching staff.

Luther leads the Iowa Conference with five female coaches while Simpson, Central and Dubuque are at the bottom with one female coach apiece. Loras, with three female coaches, has women coaching men’s golf and tennis. Simpson is also among the bottom of the conference in assistant coaches with nine female assistant coaches.

Junior Sara Pearson, a member of the volleyball and basketball teams, said the gender balance of a coaching staff can have a big impact on student-athletes.

“A player doesn’t want to go to practice and get better if all the coaches are going to jump on them for every mistake,” Pearson said. “At least one person in the staff must be personable and listen to the players.”

Sirianni believes that within every staff there must be certain staff dynamics.

“We hire depending on where the program is at and who we need for staff dynamics,” Sirianni said.