Women’s Sports: Volleyball- the sport played by women, but dominated by men

NCAA Women's Volleyball - Divison I Championship - Nebraska vs Washington

It has been 39 years since the N.C.A.A introduced a women’s volleyball tournament, but to this day no female coach has ever won the coveted title.

In the United States, Volleyball is the most popular team sport for high-school girls nationally with 18,000 participants across all N.C.A.A divisions in 2018. Amongst all players in the sport, women outnumber their male counterparts by ten to one in the top division, attract bigger crowds, and are not considered inferior like in many other sports… 

Yet when it comes to coaching these sides, the story paints a different picture. Scarcer resources, fewer opportunities and lower pay than male coaches. In Division I, fewer than half of the coaches are female at just 46%, with this figure even less than it was a decade ago.

Baylor, Stanford, Wisconsin and Minnesota. What do all four of this year’s semi-finalists have in common? None have a woman as a head coach. In the power five conferences, where athletic departments are dependent on football revenue, the numbers are even worse, with just a third of female head coaches this season.

In response to this statistic, Patti Phillips, the chief executive for Women Leaders in College Sports said “That’s terrible, just brutal. You don’t want to be it if you can’t see it, I think people look around and go, ‘Why aren’t there more women?’”

When Kelly Sheffield, head coach of Wisconsin was asked if there was a growing problem in the sport, he responded: “I’m just trying to win a volleyball match right now.”

Some would argue the reason for the lack of female coaches is a result of the sport’s popularity. Men who are coaching men’s teams chase more lucrative contracts with women’s sides. However, Sandy Barbour, the Athletics Director at Penn State says “We’re never going to build the pipeline If we don’t have role models.”

Will we see more female coaches in N.C.A.A Volleyball? For that to happen, it must be acknowledged that there currently exists a problem. The only thing we know for certain right now, is that there will be at least one more year before we a see a winning coach in a Division I final!

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