University of Minnesota

2014 Spring Newsletter

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Mary Jo KaneAs we emerge from one of the harshest Minnesota winters in memory, I am beginning to see the tiniest signs of spring, at a time of year which can often be a harbinger of change. Our latest newsletter is also about change. For long-time followers of the Tucker Center, you'll note that this newsletter is shorter than previous versions—just one full page to be exact. Beginning in the spring of 2015, we'll be moving to "TC eNews" (our electronic version) in place of the traditional paper copy, and we're starting that move this semester. To make sure we don't lose your contact information and to make this transition as smooth as possible, we need you to subscribe to our online mailing list. By doing so you will receive the new electronic version and we can keep you informed about all the important work we do on behalf of girls and women, their families, and communities. Please note that every Fall, we will continue to mail a full-size, paper copy of our newsletter to your home or business address. To help us in these efforts, go to our website and click the "Subscribe" link on our home page or in the navigation bar and fill out the form. Even if you believe you are already on our mailing list, please fill out the form and sign up.

Though this newsletter is indeed shorter, it still contains a great deal of information about the latest Tucker Center initiatives and accomplishments along with other changes we are planning beginning next year. Over the last two decades we have hosted a Distinguished Lecture Series where we have invited the "best and the brightest" to come to the U of M and share their latest findings on a variety of important issues related to women's sports. This series—the first lecture in Fall semester, the second lecture in the spring—has been phenomenally successful. But other successes have followed, notably our annual Film Festival—now in it's 4th year!—and our newly launched Women Coaches Symposium. Both of these events take place in the spring semester and because we want to give them all the attention they deserve, they will replace the second Distinguished Lecture as a key part of our public outreach efforts every spring.

In addition to all of the changes we are making, we have had a number of important accomplishments this past year. One of our proudest achievements is the documentary we produced in partnership with tptMN on media portrayals—or the lack thereof—of female athletes. This groundbreaking initiative has had quite an impact around the globe as it uses research-based evidence, and the personal stories and experiences of elite female athletes and coaches, to expose how women's sports are routinely underrepresented and stereotyped across the ubiquitous sports media landscape.

We are equally proud of our groundbreaking research report on the occupational employment status of women coaches in the wake of Title IX as this too provides powerful empirical evidence that females have lost significant ground with respect to leadership positions in the most powerful athletic conferences across the country.

Last but not least, we introduce one of our outstanding graduate students—Torrie Hazelwood—who has come to the U of M to earn her Master's degree and gain invaluable experiences working in the Tucker Center. This is Torrie's first winter in Minnesota and even though she grew up in Maine, she has been a bit surprised (shocked?) at how long and bone-chillingly cold it has been. I have reassured her that in a few weeks we might hear our first robin sing.

Yes, change is in the air … and you help make it happen by staying in touch with the Tucker Center. Please subscribe and update your information now.

—Mary Jo Kane, Director

The Tucker Center’s groundbreaking documentary video, "Media Coverage and Female Athletes: Women Play Sports, Just Not In The Media," premiered December 1, 2013 on tptMN (our project partner) and has garnered great praise as well as great demand. The documentary examines research-based information—much of it generated by Tucker Center scholars—regarding the amount and type of coverage given to women's sports. For example, even though 40% of sports participants nationwide are female, they receive less than 4% of sports media coverage. Such research findings are interwoven with the personal and professional experiences of elite female athletes, coaches and sport media journalists. 

The feedback and media attention we have received on the documentary's impact has been most gratifying. Several local and national publications have given rave reviews to the video ranging from the Star Tribune to the Seattle Times. Since the video first aired, we have received a stream of queries via email, Twitter, and Facebook asking for access to the documentary. By mid-March, "Media Coverage and Female Athletes" had been viewed an amazing 2,300 times online, averaging just over 25 times a day. The Tucker Center has also distributed 250 DVDs and some have found the documentary so impactful that they’ve donated to the Tucker Center in order to support and sustain this important research.

DVD cover for Media Coverage and Female Athletes videoMany of our supporters have generated ongoing discussions regarding how to change the current situation of the media’s underreporting and stereotyping of women’s sports. One important pathway for change is to provide decision makers such as sports editors with research-based evidence on what sports fans really want when it comes to how female athletes are portrayed. For example, a 2011 study by the TC’s Mary Jo Kane and Heather Maxwell found that when it came to increasing interest in women’s sports, both males and females much preferred images of on-court athletic competence to off-court "sexy babes." In a 2013 followup study, Kane, Nicole M. LaVoi, and Janet Fink (UMass-Amherst) discovered that elite female athletes also preferred images of athletic prowess over sexualized ones.

Beyond research publications, Kane and LaVoi have promoted the documentary on the nationally syndicated Edge of Sports radio show and blog by Dave Zirin, and are committed to a number of spring and summer speaking engagements where their media research and the documentary will be featured. An important part of this outreach effort is to make "Media Coverage" available to our academic colleagues who will, in turn, share it with their students. Early reports indicate clear signs of success. As one colleague put it: "I am so impressed! What I loved—and what will definitely be compelling to students—is how straight-forward and research-based [the documentary] is, but also how nuanced it is with respect to the arguments. It was really current as well, not just in content, but in the vernacular. It felt real, and almost 'hip,' and that made the arguments come through in such a strong fashion. Just a great video."

If you’d like to view "Media Coverage and Female Athletes," screen it at your institution, or use it in class, click here ... and while you’re there, we invite you to check out our other research initiatives.

Tucker Center logo superimposed over an image of the earthThis past year, Tucker Center scholars and affiliates have been busy sharing their work across Minnesota, around the country and the globe. Here’s a sampling of where we've been (or are going) and what we’re doing to make a difference in the lives of girls and women who participate in sports. 

In February, Tucker Center research assistant and doctoral candidate Julia Dutove presented a workshop on self-determined motivational strategies for physical activity at the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) North Central Sport Psychology Conference in Mankato, MN. TC associate director Dr. Nicole M. LaVoi and TC affiliated scholar Dr. Diane Wiese-Bjornstal also participated as panelists and shared insights and advice to aspiring sport psychology professionals and students.

Dr. LaVoi will also be numerous other places this spring as she shares the work of the Tucker Center with different stakeholder groups. She talked with coaches of the women’s teams hosted by the UNLV Women of Excellence, met with students, and participated in a panel discussion after showing our "Media Coverage and Female Athletes" video at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, March 31-April 1. She also gave the invited keynote on April 16 for the Minnesota Athena Leadership Awards entitled "The Power of Girls: Being Bright, Bossy, Brave." On April 25, LaVoi will be an invited panelist at the University of Notre Dame's Coaching Ethics Symposium, and she will deliver two talks at the annual NCAA Inclusion Forum in Orlando, FL, May 1-3, one on media portrayals of female athletes and the other on the Tucker Center's Women in College Coaching Report Card. May 19-21, LaVoi will travel with Tucker Team members Torrie HazelwoodAustin Stair Calhoun, and Dr. Chelsey Thul to the St. Norbert College Sport & Society "Women in Sport" themed conference in De Pere, WI where they will be part of a symposium session highlighting the Tucker Center’s cutting-edge research.

Tucker Center director Dr. Mary Jo Kane traveled to Nashville, TN in February to give a presentation to a general assembly of students at Harpeth Hall, a nationally recognized private girls' school. She also delivered a keynote address highlighting the role of media in women's sports to the general public and members of the Women's Final Four Organizing Committee. This June, Kane will appear as a panelist examining the portrayal of female athletes at the Associated Press Sports Editors' (APSE) annual conference in Arlington, VA. 

Over spring break this past March, TC affiliated scholar Dr. Jo Ann Buysse took 14 students to Rome and Florence, Italy, on a First Year Seminar Abroad class on Italian sport and culture. A few of the highlights included meetings with: the front office staff of Serie A Pro soccer team SS Lazio; Monsignor Melchor Sanchez de Toca Alameda, Under-secretary of the Vatican Council for culture and sport; Italian professional basketball team Virtus Roma and former Gopher Trevor Mbakwe; and Florence's female Serie A Football Team, A.C.F. Firenze. To top off  the study abroad experience, the students attended a soccer match between AS Roma and Udinese.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Tucker Center and to honor National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD), last February we launched what will be an annual endeavor that complements our line of research on women coaches. In collaboration with U of M Athletics and the Alliance of Women Coaches (AWC), we hosted the Women Coaches Symposium which was attended by 120+ coaches and athletic administrators at all levels of competition, primarily from the Twin Cities and surrounding areas. The symposium was held to provide high quality educational programming and an avenue for networking and building community for women in the coaching profession, with the overall goal of increasing and retaining women in the coaching profession. Toward that end, our enthusiastic participants spent the day exploring unique professional development opportunities from expert coaches and sport science scholars.

MN Lynx Coach Cheryl ReeveU of M Associate Athletic Director Beth Goetz welcomed the attendees and set a positive tone and outlook for future employment opportunities. Celia Slator, Executive Director of the AWC, then kicked things off with "big picture" ideas of what it means to be a champion coach—ideas that aren’t exclusively related to winning, but focus instead on one"s professional and personal relationships. Tucker Center Associate Director, Dr. Nicole M. LaVoi, shared the most recent statistics on the decreasing percentage of women coaches nationwide and the reasons why it’s so important to have women in leadership positions. Chief among them are role modeling and adding diversity to the workplace. Rayla Allison, a U of M Sport Management faculty member and J.D., enlightened participants on numerous laws already in place that protect women coaches and their programs from discrimination, including the most well-known civil rights law in this area, Title IX. There was high praise for our sport science panelists—Dr. Cindra Kamphoff (Associate Professor, Sports and Exercise Psychology, Minnesota State University in Mankato), Carrie Peterson (Director, Dietetic Internship graduate program, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, U of M), and Jamia Erickson (Sports Performance Specialist, Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center, Rochester, MN)—who spoke about how to be mentally strong, and highlighted the benefits of sport nutrition and strength and conditioning. Before lunch, Dr. LaVoi moderated a panel titled, "The Female Athlete as Warrior" with accomplished coaches Laura Bush (Associate Head Volleyball Coach, U of M), Faith Johnson Patterson (Head Girls Basketball Coach, DeLaSalle High School, Minneapolis), Kari Ornes (Coaching Director, Prior Lake Soccer Club, Prior Lake, MN), and Vicki Schull (former Associate AD/Head Softball Coach, Suffolk University, Boston, and Ph.D. candidate, School of Kinesiology, U of M), who shared divergent and thought provoking ideas about what it looks like to be/act like a "warrior" and how this impacts female athletes. According to our attendees, the highlight of the day was the keynote speaker—Minnesota Lynx Head Coach Cheryl Reeve who shared candid stories and humorous insights about coaching some of the best and most successful female athletes in the world.

The symposium wrapped up with an all-star "Great Women! Big Ideas!" panel comprised of current and former U of M head coaches Pam Borton, Terry Ganley, Stefanie Golan, Laura Halldorson and Sarah Hopkins. These highly accomplished women shared what they were most proud of, essential attributes of a successful coach, advice for young coaches, and one thing they would do differently if given the opportunity. The big take-away for participants? There are many approaches and styles to being a successful coach!

(l. to r.) Pam Borton, Stefanie Golan, Sarah Hopkins, Terry Ganley, Laura Halldorson
(l. to r.) Pam Borton, Stefanie Golan, Sarah Hopkins, Terry Ganley, Laura Halldorson

Our first Women Coaches Symposium was a great success due to overwhelming attendance, fantastic and insightful speakers, and a variety of topics. Based on the participants’ feedback, they enthusiastically agreed with our assessment. As one coach said, "It was great to have other female coaches to network and connect with who had sound advice, different perspectives, and experiences." Another coach pointed out that she "feels isolated as a woman coach, so being around other female coaches all in one room and hearing similarities in both struggles and successes was inspiring and energizing!" Given such feedback, we plan to make this symposium an annual event so stay tuned for registration and program details.

In December 2013, we released the Women in College Coaching Research Series and Report Card in collaboration with the Alliance of Women Coaches (AWC), an organization dedicated to increasing the number of women in the coaching profession in intercollegiate athletics. We examined data from 2012-13 and 2013-14 on the number of female coaches in women's sports from all 76 "big time" NCAA-I Football Bowl Series institutions in the six largest athletic conferences. To publicize our findings, an exclusive first-run story was granted to USA Today sport columnist Christine Brennan who gave this important work nationwide visibility.

image of refport covers and infographicAn alarming trend and statistic guided this research: Forty years after the passage of Title IX, the percentage of women coaching women at the collegiate level has declined from 90+% to just below 40% currently. To address this alarming decline, we developed a report card for each of the 76 institutions under consideration to see how each of them fared when it came to the number of females who served as head coaches in their respective athletic departments. This approach allowed us to highlight the importance of the issue, generate public awareness, provide a catalyst for national dialogue, and offer a publicly available accountability mechanism for academic institutions. A number of key trends emerged from the data. For example, in one year alone, the percentage of women head coaches declined from 40.2% in 2012-13 to 39.6% in 2013-14. In addition, only one school from the entire sample—the University of Cincinnati at 80%—was awarded an A for its percentage of women head coaches.

Based on several stories generated nationwide in publications as diverse as The Chronicle of Higher EducationAthletic BusinessespnW, and the USOC Coaching Education Newsletter, as well as the number of individuals and institutions who have contacted us directly, we have clearly established a solid foundation for meeting our project's goals. To read and download the full reports and see which of the 76 institutions received passing or failing grades, visit the web page. And stay tuned for the 2014-15 report and report card in December of 2014!

image of Torrie HazelwoodTorrie Hazelwood joined the Tucker Team in September, 2013 as a Master's student in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Sport Sociology. Originally from Maine, Hazelwood graduated from Franklin & Marshall College (F&M) in Lancaster, PA in 2012 with a joint B.A. in Sociology and Women's & Gender Studies. In her final year at F&M, she successfully defended her honors thesis entitled, "A contested field: The impact of ideology on women's sports participation in China and Saudi Arabia."

Hazelwood studied abroad in Geneva, Switzerland during her junior year to study issues surrounding women’s sports participation. While abroad she conducted her research at the Olympic Studies Center focusing in particular on female athletes in Muslim-majority countries. During her stay in Switzerland, Hazelwood interviewed a number of European scholars with expertise in the area of Muslim women engaged in sports, and consulted with several United Nations officials relative to her project.

Upon graduation, Hazelwood began her work in the Tucker Center. Her research assistantship here has allowed Hazelwood to pursue her academic interests as well as experience the environment of an interdisciplinary research center. In addition to her efforts in the Tucker Center, Hazelwood works as a grant-funded research assistant under Dr. Chelsey Thul, who is overseeing a collaborative research project, "The Impact of Culturally Sensitive Apparel Co-Design on the Physical Activity of East African Adolescent Girls." Being part of this study has renewed Hazelwood’s appetite for inquiry and has enabled her to learn how to conduct community-based research.

Apart from her graduate studies, Hazelwood enjoys yoga, photography, playing the occasional pick-up soccer match and globetrotting. She is a fan of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team, has led a cycling trip through the Adirondack Mountains. This summer she will coordinate a leadership and service program in Vietnam. For her future plans, Hazelwood will pursue a career as a researcher and project manager for a global non-profit or non-governmental organization using sport and physical activity as an essential tool for education, empowerment, and peace and development objectives.

image of 9 for IX ticketIn conjunction with National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD), the Tucker Center and U of M Athletics hosted the fourth annual Tucker Center Film Festival (TCFF) in early February. The sold-out event featured two films from espnW’s “Nine for IX” video series which celebrated the 40th anniversary of Title IX. The films—“Pat XO” and “Coach”—showcased the extraordinary careers of head women’s basketball coaches Pat Summitt and Vivian Stringer. The TCFF also included a trailer titled “From the Rough,” a story based on the real-life experiences of Catana Starks from Tennessee State University, the first woman to coach a men’s collegiate golf team. “From the Rough” will be premiering in 200 theaters around the country this April. Trailers for other “Nine for IX” films can be viewed at, and can be purchased on iTunes. A big shout out to Gopher Athletics for sponsoring this event as well as espnW/ESPN for providing the feature films. If you have ideas for the 5th anniversary of the TCFF in 2015, please send them our way!

The Tucker Center’s #HERESPROOF Project is a crowdsourced, grassroots picture campaign designed to help shatter the deeply embedded myth that “no one’s interested in women's sports” by offering visual proof from around the globe that indeed they are. To see for yourself, check out our infographic on our website highlighting the amazing amount of interest in women’s sports, and then join in the fun—and the proof!—by posting your own picture on your favorite social network with the hashtag #HERESPROOF.

HERESPROOF project leogo image of heresproof picture with logo imposed