Recognition is important. But they made a mistake in history. In fact, there is a much longer history of women working as soccer coaches, and commemorating and celebrating this history can help normalize the women in these roles. Stereotypes of masculinity and power in this hyper-masculine sport have helped erase women’s longstanding contributions to the game.
Football was formalized in the 1870s when representatives of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Columbia met to establish a standard set of rules. The new sport has played an integral role in being a site for establishing masculinity, something many public commentators fear will be jeopardized with closed borders, increased levels of immigration and fears that the white Anglo-Saxon man is being lost.
But since the early years of this manly sport, women have stepped in as coaches. For example, the “father of football” Walter Camp regularly missed training, so his wife Alice went to his place. She provided careful feedback and tactical suggestions to help her husband coach the team, and her contributions were so valuable that the undefeated Yale 1888 team considered her a coach like her husband. In fact, at the 1888 team’s 25th Anniversary Dinner, the list included a picture of Alice Walter, titled “The Head Coaches, 1888.”
Other women followed Alice Camp. Lillian Merrill, Annie Bragdon, Estelle Sherwin, Carrie Burckhardt and Cosette Brannon coached men’s soccer teams in the years leading up to World War I.
They did this work at a time when high school football, like the team game, was remarkably violent. Journal of the American Medical Association, between 1900 and 1935, He wrote regularly about the violence of the sport, including injuries and deaths at the college and university school level due to its competitiveness and lack of fair play. Thus, these pioneers were training a very violent sport, contrary to gender norms.
Most of the women coaching teams were of school age. Brannon coached the second team at Arkansas State Agricultural College. Brannon was not necessarily the school’s first choice; Her appointment was due to a lack of money and the absence of anyone else willing to take on the role.
This was typical. School officials often looked for female coaches only as a last resort. The football field was a place for boys and men to prove their masculinity; Women’s participation would undermine this. The traditional role of women was as a spectator, whose presence would have a civilizing effect.
However, while women weren’t the most well-known or highly paid employees, they were in the mix. That became even more true with the World War.
When men went to fight or work in production to support the American war effort during World War I, many schools and colleges hired female instructors. Miss Ecker (first name not known) from Washington, D.C. and Anna Heard from Oregon coached high school teams in 1917.
Likewise, during World War II, as millions of other men were conscripted, women once again returned to training roles not normally available to them. Pauline Rogue, Mrs. Joe Ward (first name unknown), Pauline Foster, Madeline Bell, Erin Stewart, and Mary McMichael coached school teams in Pennsylvania, Texas, and Louisiana in the early 1940s. Ward, a coach at Woodlawn Hills Elementary School in Texas, won titles with her team in 1940 and 1941.
As in manufacturing, engineering, construction, and other traditionally male jobs held by women in wartime, most employers pushed women out or urged them to leave their positions to make room for men after the war. Those pressures have affected football coaches as well, with many leaving their positions. But not all of them did. Among those who trained during World War II, Ward stayed for seven years, Bell for four and Stewart for 16.
One thing remained constant during these decades – many found it hard to believe that women might know about soccer coaching.
Heard and Ecker reported in 1917, for example, that their appointments were “radical” and “strange,” even if they were necessary because of the war. Essays on Brannon in 1916, Lambert in 1933 and Stagg in 1942 cited their husbands to reassure readers that women are attached to men and thus fit into their expected domestic roles, at least in the home. Sometimes the mention of men was intended to explain a woman’s talent. The media attributed Lambert’s knowledge to her husband, Fonsa Lambert, a member of the National Football League Rules Committee, assuring readers that the leadership and real football experience remains strongly masculine.
When Foster won her first match in 1942, press reports said an opponent coach would “never live” when a woman defeats his team. Such coverage was typical, with male football coaches configuring how journalists framed their coverage of female coaches, often focusing on shock and entertainment.
While the articles praised the women for their efforts, knowledge, and successes, they also included details about the coaches’ physical appearance. The media described Meryl as “beautiful”, Burckhardt as “the sexiest” and Mary McMichael as a “bullsy blonde”. These comments undermined these women by emphasizing their view of their coaching accomplishments, and by reassuring readers that their roles were not masculine.
While there is little evidence of many female soccer coaches in the 1950s and 1960s, the women’s liberation movement in the following decade sought to change this situation. age Title ninth In 1972, sports programs in schools required the creation of greater opportunities for women and girls, and organizations such as the National Organization for Women fought for sports rights for women. Karen Small in New Jersey, Jane Robinson in South Carolina, and Judy Manthorpe in California are just some of the examples of women’s soccer coaching these years.
However, negative attitudes towards the possibility of training women persisted, preventing some women from assuming these roles. For example, Kandi Hiseru asked the Maryland State Board of Education to overturn a 1978 ruling that prevented her from becoming an assistant football coach in the state, an appeal that failed.
Since then, most women have remained stuck in similar assistant positions at the high school level, but some women became high school principals and even trained at the university level. In 1984, Dot Easterwood Murphy began training wide receivers at Hinds Junior College in the National Athletics Association. The NFL films followed Murphy in 1995 in a segment on “American Football”. In 1986, Carol White became a graduate assistant at Georgia Tech, where she worked with her players, making her, arguably, the first woman to coach in the Major League Soccer League.
This progress occurred despite football’s continued association with masculinity, the lack of playing opportunities for women and the lack of coaching paths for female football coaches.
This is why the fact that women are now training in the NFL is so crucial. These represent the few women who have managed to reach the top of the sport, despite the large number of women who preceded them. Women have proven that they can train football well, but their numbers at the professional level are still small.
As we recognize that women break down barriers in sport today, it is also still important to rise up to those who came before to highlight the many barriers that women have been able to break down and uncover the obstacles that remain.