04/26/2016 Vawrestler

Men Coaching Women

femalewrestlerTeam USA‘s website has a really good article about coaching female wrestlers.

When I coached youth wrestling, I was always uncomfortable about coaching girls. Wrestling is a very physical sport and when you coach you can’t help but be in close bodily contact with your wrestlers when demonstrating moves or helping them perfect a move.

With today’s litigious environment, I suspect many male coaches are leery of coaching girls. Of course, sexual harassment claims, real and not, are made in all types of sports. Here in Northern Virginia it seems every other year you hear of a swimming coach who has been accused of inappropriate contact with his athletes.

According to the Team USA article, “the number of girls who wrestled in high school grew from 804 in 1994 to over 11,496 in 2015. Alaska, California, Hawaii, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington all sponsor a girls state high school championship and over 30 colleges now have a women’s varsity wrestling program.”

And while there are more women coaching girls, coaching at the youth wrestling level is still done mostly by men. No matter their gender, wrestling coaches do what they do because they love the sport, says Terry Steiner, head coach of the U.S. Women’s national wrestling team. The challenge and reward of teaching life lessons is what drives them—whether coaching boys or girls, men or women. “Their goal is to help move human beings forward and make a difference,” Steiner says. “Wrestling is wrestling and sport is sport.”

Nevertheless, Steiner, who was an assistant coach for Oregon State University and the University of Wisconsin from 1994-2002, acknowledges that he went through an adjustment period the first time he coached female athletes. “I remember that first practice,” he recalls. “Here I am, someone who has been involved in wrestling my whole life, and I wasn’t sure how to approach certain things,” like how to demonstrate certain moves with a female wrestler. But Steiner quickly realized was that these concerns were issues he, as the coach,had to figure out, not the female wrestlers.

Read the whole thing here.

As women’s participation in the sport of wrestling grows, perhaps we’ll reach a point where we can have all female teams and leagues, complete with female coaches and refs.