University of Minnesota

2016 Spring TC e:News

Mary Jo KaneAs I write this column in late February it's sunny outside, (relatively) warm and the snow is beginning to melt. Welcome to spring in Minnesota! We have a number of exciting new and ongoing initiatives to tell you about, ranging from our various research studies to our collaborations with local and national organizations engaged in public service. A key part of our mission is to link our scholarly efforts to issues that have a direct impact on the lives of girls and women participating in all manner of sports and physical activity. One critical issue we are currently focused on involves leadership at all levels of the sporting enterprise, but in particular at the collegiate and professional levels. For example, under the guidance of Co-Director Dr. Nicole M. LaVoi—and in partnership with the Alliance of Women Coaches—the Tucker Center recently launched the fourth installment of the much-needed and groundbreaking longitudinal study examining the decline of women in head coaching positions in the wake of Title IX. This year's report revealed that within the major Division I athletic conferences, females represented just 41% of all head coaches of women's teams nationwide. This was a slight improvement when compared to findings in previous years in that there was an overall net gain of seven female head coaches. This particular trend suggests that the current percentage of females occupying head coaching positions has leveled off after the precipitous decline that occurred over the last two decades. Dr. LaVoi's study is featured in the following article.

The absence of women in key leadership positions in the sports world generated an internal discussion among Tucker Center staff about how such an absence does not signal a lack of women who are, in fact, great leaders. Our spring Distinguished Lecture will feature a Great Conversation with two exceptional leaders—Lindsay Whalen and Cheryl Reeve from the WNBA Minnesota Lynx. They will use their personal journeys as a star athlete and a professional head coach to share not only what it means to be a leader, but to be a champion both on and off the basketball court. Click here for more details about what I'm sure will be an interesting and lively event.

Another Tucker Center initiative that illustrates the importance of partnerships is the third annual Women Coaches Symposium that we are hosting in April with the Alliance of Women Coaches and the University of Minnesota's Department of Athletics. The purpose of the symposium is to create a forum for networking and building community among women who are—or hope to be—members of the coaching profession. This year's keynote speaker is Lin Dunn, one of the most accomplished coaches in the history of women's basketball at the collegegiate, professional and Olympic levels. More details about the symposium, including how to register, is highlighted in a story below.

A final example of the power of partnerships involves the collaborative work done by one of our Affiliated Scholars—Dr. Chelsey Thul. Her research is rooted in a deep commitment to working with underserved girls, particularly as it examines the barriers these girls face when it comes to sports and physical activity. Thul formed relationships with East African girls living in the Twin Cities metropolitan community. Working closely with her colleagues at the Tucker Center, the U of M's College of Design, and the community's GIRLS Program, Thul discovered that these girls had a great desire to be physically active, but had limited access to culturally competent and religiously appropriate programming and attire. Her innovative research—tied to the everyday needs of adolescent females—is one reason she has been nominated for a prestigious award in the College of Education and Human Development. Click here to learn more about how Thul employed her culturally sensitive research while building important and lasting connections in the East African community.

To keep current on all of the work we do on behalf of girls and women, their families, and communities, check our website regularly and follow us via social media. Happy Spring!

—Mary Jo Kane, Director

The Tucker Center, in collaboration with the Alliance of Women Coaches, released the fourth installment of the annual Women Coaches Research Series & Report Card this month. Authored by Dr. LaVoi, the report is designed to hold institutions accountable for their hiring practices and create awareness about the nationwide decline in the number of women coaches. The report does this by documenting the percentage of female head coaches of women's teams in "big time" collegiate athletics and assigning each institution a letter grade based on that percentage. Institutions included in the report came from seven prominent Division I conferences: The AAC, ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC.

According to this year's report, females represented 41.1% of all head coaches of women's teams. This number was a slight improvement compared to the previous year as there was a net gain of seven female head coaches. When taken in the context of all previous reports, this year's findings indicate that the percentage of women in coaching positions has leveled off after undergoing a precipitous decline for several decades. Whether this trend will be maintained, culminate in a significant increase in the number of female head coaches, or lead to a continued decline remains to be seen.

Of the 86 athletic programs included in the report, only Cincinnati and Central Florida earned A grades. On the other end of the spectrum, West Virginia and Syracuse had the lowest percentages of female coaches, each with 9.1%. The U of M was among schools earning a B grade. Notably, this year marked the first time in the study's 4-year history that more schools earned As and Bs than received Fs. Regarding trends in specific sports, field hockey had the greatest percentage of female head coaches (at 100%) for the fourth consecutive year. In sharp contrast, water polo and alpine skiing had no female head coaches.

As with the previous three reports, the 2016 Women Coaches Research Series & Report Card succeeded in fostering a national dialogue about women in in the coaching profession. The report garnered national coverage from several noteworthy news outlets, including a piece by acclaimed journalist Kate Fagan with espnW.

In just one short month the Tucker Center will present "Lessons on Leadership: Building Champions in Women's Sports" on Tuesday, March 22nd, at 7pm at the Humphrey Center on the U of M's West Bank campus. Two of the most accomplished women in professional sports today—WNBA Lynx Head Coach Cheryl Reeve and star point guard Lindsay Whalen—will share their personal stories and experiences along with their insights and strategies on what it takes to build leaders and champions, not only in sports, but in life. Tucker Center Director, Dr. Mary Jo Kane, will moderate the event with introductions provided by U of M interim Athletic Director Beth Goetz.

In the wake of Title IX and the explosion of women's sports participation, women have taken on leadership roles in all aspects of sports, from the front office to the front court. Reeve, an assistant and head coach for 27 years, was a collegiate All-Metro Atlantic Conference and All-Big 5 selection as a member of the women's basketball team at LaSalle University. She served as a member of the coaching staff when the U.S. team won the gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games. Reeve has won three WNBA titles as head coach and has an overall record of 141-64, the winningest percentage in franchise history.

Whalen, a native of Hutchinson, Minnesota, led the U of M Gopher women's team to the NCAA tournament three straight years, including its first-ever Final Four appearance in 2004. She was a two-time Wade Trophy and Naismith Award finalist and a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection. At the professional level Whalen won a gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey in 2014. She has won three WNBA titles as a member of the Lynx and is only the second player in WNBA history to record 4,000 points, 1,500 assists and 1,000 rebounds.

With such impressive credentials and experience, the evening promises to be filled with stories and insights from the top tier of the women's basketball world. As a Great Conversation, there will be a Q&A session with the audience, allowing an even greater view into what it means—and what it takes—to be a leader in women's sports.

The event is free and open to the public. Parking is available. For more information, visit our Distinguished Lecture Series page.

This coming April the Tucker Center is hosting the third annual Women Coaches Symposium in partnership with the Alliance of Women Coaches (AWC) and the University of Minnesota's Department of Athletics. Last year's symposium was a major success with over 120 coaches from around the country attending this much-needed event. This year is shaping up to have a record turnout with over 100 coaches already registered for the symposium to be held on Friday, April 22nd at TCF Bank Stadium on the U of M East Bank campus.

The primary goal of the symposium is to increase and retain women in the coaching profession. Toward that end, Tucker Center staff—under the guidance of Dr. LaVoi—have worked hard to ensure high quality educational programming. A key component of this programming is creating a forum for networking and building community for women in the coaching profession.

This year's symposium will feature opening remarks by Gopher Interim Athletics Director, Beth Goetz, as well as comments from Marlene Bjornsrud (Executive Director of the AWC), and Dr. LaVoi. The symposium will also welcome back some familiar faces including Dr. Cindra Kamphoff, who will examine how to develop a mentally tough mindset, to Dr. Austin Stair Calhoun on developing your digital brand, and Jody Redman on coaching from the inside out.

The keynote speaker for the symposium is Lin Dunn. One of the most accomplished coaches in the history of women's basketball, Dunn amassed a .635 winning percentage at the collegiate level over a 25-year career. And at each of the three of the schools she coached—Purdue, Miami and Austin Peay State University—she became the winningest coach in program history. At the international level, Dunn was part of the coaching staff for the U.S. women's team that captured gold at the 1992 Olympics. She served in a similar capacity for the U.S. on the gold medal-winning women's basketball teams at the 1990 World Championship and Goodwill Games. A National Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, Dunn is the winningest coach in WNBA Indiana Fever franchise history, boasting a seven-year record of 135-103 culminating with the WNBA title in 2012, one of her finest accomplishments over a distinguished 44-year coaching career.

Other new additions to this year's program include a session on mindfulness for coaches presented by Dr. Katie Schuver, a panel of local coaches discussing work-life harmony, and strategies for implementing LGBTQ inclusion opportunities with Nevin Caple.

For more information including program and speaker bios, please click here.

Tucker Center Affiliated Scholar and School of Kinesiology Lecturer, Dr. Chelsey Thul, has been nominated for the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) Community Outreach and Engagement Award for Staff which recognizes individuals engaged in community outreach and public service as a permanent priority. Dr. Thul's exemplary research, outreach and community engagement in the Somali girls' athletic community uniquely qualify her for this award.

A native of Cloquet, Minnesota, Thul completed her MA in Kinesiology at the U of M in 2008 and her PhD in 2011 with an emphasis in Sport Psychology and a minor in Prevention Science. Her work with Co-Director, Dr. LaVoi, produced a seminal paper in the Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health Journal on barriers to East African girls' participation in physical activity entitled "Reducing Physical Inactivity and Promoting Active Living: From the Voices of East African Immigrant Adolescent Girls." Subsequently, Dr. Thul implemented the findings in a unique partnership with Fatimah Hussein, a well-known and highly respected member of the Somali-American community who had created the Minneapolis Cedar-Riverside-based Girls' Initiative in Recreation and Leisurely Sports (GIRLS). This innovative program grew out of the knowledge that adolescent girls had a desire to participate in sports and physical activity, but had limited, access to culturally competent, female-only and religiously appropriate programming. In extending this collaboration, Thul, Hussein and the young girls themselves worked with Dr. Elizabeth Bye (from the U of M's College of Design), Jennifer Weber, Muna Mohamed and Salma Hussein (GIRLS program coaches and volunteers) to form a multidisciplinary team to help reduce an additional and key barrier to physical activity: Culturally relevant uniforms that would allow the girls to participate while remaining appropriately covered. This innovative partnership produced the first-ever sports uniform for Muslim girls. You can learn more about the research project and the great team of collaborators here.

At the heart of her work is Thul's deep commitment to the GIRLS participants. This commitment is reflected in the amount of time, networking, negotiating and organizing it took to pull off this groundbreaking project. Thul's mixed methods participatory research, which is grounded in a desire to make research relevant to and applicable for community partners, examines the critical intersections of gender, sport psychology, public health, prevention science and physical activity. Thul strives to do the right things for the right reasons, values and behaviors which stem from an authentic personal moral code. Her nomination for this year's Community Outreach and Engagement Award highlights her powerful blend of passion, intellect and ability to work with diverse groups of people, a combination that perfectly suits her for this award.

Stay tuned to the Tucker Center's news and social media streams to find out if Dr. Thul receives this prestigious College award.

As a high school cross-country and track & field athlete in Oak Park, Illinois, Marnie Kinnaird developed an avid interest in the science of sport, which ultimately led her to study Kinesiology as an undergraduate at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California. Although she originally envisioned a career as a biomechanist, coach, or exercise physiologist, Kinnaird’s academic interests shifted profoundly while pursuing her degree at Occidental. Specifically, after taking courses in sport psychology and sport sociology she became inspired to study sports as a tool to elevate and empower women. As a result, she conducted her senior thesis on mental toughness in female Division III athletes. Kinnaird's newfound interest in sport feminism led her to the Tucker Center after completing her undergraduate studies in 2014.

As a U of M Master's degree student concentrating in Sport and Exercise Psychology and currently serving as a Tucker Center research assistant, Kinnaird is especially interested in how positive psychology can be applied to understand and help women in sport leadership positions. Noticing a dearth of research related to how female coaches manage to overcome the distinct challenges they face, Kinnaird is conducting her master's thesis research on resilience in longtime Division I female collegiate head coaches. She notes that the Tucker Center has played an important role in her research: "The wealth of resources available in the Tucker Center, the generosity of Tucker Center supporters, and the guidance of my advisor Dr. LaVoi are solely responsible for providing me the unique opportunity to develop and execute truly innovative research that has the potential to help a new generation of women in sport leadership."

After her time at the U of M concludes this spring, Kinnaird hopes to pursue a career conducting research for socially conscious organizations, especially those committed to empowering marginalized groups. In her free time, she enjoys listening to National Public Radio, riding her bicycle, exploring the Twin Cities with her friends, and traveling. In addition to her academic career, Kinnaird competed in cross-country and track for both Occidental and the U of M and continues to run every day.

  • Mary Jo Kane and Dr. LaVoi presented a paper entitled, "Translating and Disseminating Interdisciplinary Research as a Vehicle for Social Change" at the annual conference of the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport (NASSS), Santa Fe, NM, November, 2015.
  • Dr. Kane received the NASSS Distinguished Service Award from her colleagues at the same annual conference.
  • Affiliated Scholar Dr. Kent Kaiser and Research Assistant Ryan Wienk from the University of Northwestern in St Paul presented a paper, "Final Four Sports Reporters on Twitter: Gender Differences and Similarities," at NASSS as well.
  • Dr. LaVoi published her first book, Women and Sports Coaching from Routledge. The book illuminates and examines the status of women in coaching, explores the complex issues they face in pursuing their careers, and suggests solutions for eliminating the barriers that impede women in coaching. The edited book is due for release this March.
  • Affiliated Scholar Dr. Diane Wiese-Bjornstal published an article entitled "Observations about sports injury surveillance and sports medicine psychology among female athletes" in the Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal.
  • Affiliated Scholar Dr. Laura Burton is slated to publish "Forty years of leadership research in sport management: A review and synthesis" in the Journal of Sport Management. She has also published a chapter entitled "Discrimination in the Workplace" in Mazerolle and Pitney's Workplace Concepts for Athletic Trainers. Finally, Dr. Burton has written "An Ecological Approach To Studying And Examining Women Coaches" for Dr. LaVoi's forthcoming Women in Sports Coaching.
  • While on sabbatical, Dr. LaVoi has been traveling the country and speaking on behalf of the Tucker Center. Most recently, she traveled to Baltimore for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America's convention and delivered a presentation entitled "Empowering Women Coaches and Barriers of Women Coaches." In February, she traveled to Pittsburgh to give the keynote address, "Was 2015 a Tipping Point for Girls and Women in Sport?" at Robert Morris University's second annual Girls & Women in Sport Symposium.

Pioneering sports sociologist Professor Michael Messner and his colleague, Professor Michela Musto, have written a soon-to-be-released book entitled, Child's Play: Sport in Kids' Worlds from Rutgers University Press. Tucker Center Affiliated Scholars both at the U of M and beyond have contributed important chapters to the edited book. Along with former Tucker Center research assistant Torrie Hazelwood, Drs. LaVoi and Thul collaborated with Fatimah Hussein, GIRLS Program Director, to write the chapter, "We Have a Right to the Gym: Physical Activity Experiences of East African Immigrant Girls." This chapter came out of Thul's research on adolescent girls engaged in culturally relevant physical activity programming with the goal of evaluating needs and co-creating strategies for increasing their physical activity participation (for more information on this innovative project see "Thul Nomination").

Other Tucker Center Affiliated Scholars who contributed to the anthology are Professor Cheryl Cooky from Purdue University ("Girls and the Racialization of Female Bodies in Sport Contexts"), Professor Doug Hartmann (U of M; "Kids of Color in the American Sporting Landscape: Limited, Concentrated, and Controlled"), and Professor Toben Nelson (U of M; "Sport and the Childhood Obesity Epidemic").

Child's Play: Sport in Kids' Worlds is part of Messner and Hartmann's Critical Issues in Sport and Society series, a collection which seeks to "provide a much needed research agenda for studying physical activities and sport participation among young people, and serves as a valuable source of information for any parent or adult concerned about youth sports." The book will reach the shelves this April and be published as an eBook in May of this year.

February 3rd marked the 30th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day, a nationwide celebration recognizing the accomplishments of individuals in the promotion and advancement of girls' and women's sports. To honor the day locally, an award ceremony was held at the Minnesota History Center in downtown St. Paul to recognize some of Minnesota's most inspiring and influential student-athletes, coaches and athletic leaders. One such inspirational leader is Dr. Chelsey Thul who received a Breaking Barriers Award. This award is given to individuals who have broken barriers, overcome challenges and provided athletic opportunities for girls and women of all races, ages, and levels of ability.

Unfortunately, this year’s Film Festival was cancelled due to inclement weather. The event was set to feature "In the Game," an inspirational documentary following the triumphs and tribulations of an inner-city girls' soccer team on Chicago's South Side. We will be hosting a free public screening of the film on the U of M’s campus next month. Follow @TuckerCenter on social media for updated information.