During the last week of May, in Denver, Colorado, WeCOACH hosted the 51st class of the NCAA Women Coaches Academy (WCA) and the 5th Class of the NCAA Academy 2.0. The Academies ran concurrently, and were the first sessions back in-person since the pandemic began in 2020. As we’re sure you can imagine, the excitement in the room bubbled amongst participants and presenters, elevating the atmosphere around the jam-packed few days to come. This year’s Academies saw 43 women of all experience levels and sports from NCAA Divisions I, II, and III, selected to participate in the NCAA WCA, and another 16 selected for Academy 2.0.
The NCAA WCA is designed to provide women coaches with the opportunity to elevate their holistic coaching effectiveness by learning advanced leadership skills and strategies that directly impact their personal and team success. The NCAA Academy 2.0, is exclusively for WCA graduates and provides a masterclass learning opportunity, in a smaller group setting, to progress on the leadership skills, strategies, and knowledge gained from their WCA experience.
Along with the feeling of excitement from being back in-person for the first time in over two years, was a sense of evolution with it being WeCOACH CEO, Vanessa Fuchs’ first Academy since assuming the position in March. Reflecting on the Academies Vanessa shared,
“The 2022 NCAA-WeCOACH Women Coaches Academy (WCA) and Academy 2.0 proved to be a transformational experience for our 59 graduates.
Our renowned faculty and presenters not only brought awareness to timely topics of national significance impacting the coaching profession, but they also offered specific strategies for best navigating and managing these challenges. I’m still hearing from Academy participants weeks after the fact, sharing that the inspiration, motivation, sense of community, and support they received is unlike anything else they have ever been a part of.”
For the twelfth consecutive year, CEO of Athlete Assessments, Liz Masen, joined the faculty for both Academies, presenting to the groups over the days. The WCA included sessions from Liz on Knowing Your Values and DISC Profiling for Coaches, which required each coach to complete their individual CoachDISC Profile ahead of the Academy. The Academy 2.0 sessions built on those undertaken by the graduates in their respective WCA, and included advanced use of the CoachDISC incorporating 360 Observer Feedback, along with a session focused on Owning Your Narrative.
Liz shared her own perspective of her contribution,
Throughout the duration of Academies, there were too many highlights to choose a favorite. It was a phenomenal experience working with coaches again in person, and it fills my ‘soul cup’ to have this opportunity. The level of commitment they showed to their own development was inspiring, and the commitment they showed to each other through support, encouragement, and belief in their capabilities was truly like no other I’ve experienced.”
Knowing how personal the experience of the Academies is for each participant, we asked some of the women coaches, now Academy graduates, to share some of their highlights.
Dawn Barnes, Head Volleyball Coach at South Carolina State University:
I am so appreciative of the magnificent women who make the Women Coaches Academy happen. The conference was enjoyable, inspirational, and educational. The amount of time and energy that goes into organizing such an event was evident. The knowledge and wisdom that was bestowed on all women coaches in attendance was amazing. I highly recommend this to every female coach.”
Olivia Leavitt, Assistant Tennis Coach at Colgate Athletics:
Since the academy I have been raving about it to my friends and family, it was truly an amazing experience, and I am now eager to do 2.0. Liz’s two sessions with the group were truly two of my favorites. I hope to practice the values exercise so I can use it with others!”
Courtney Materazzi, Women’s Volleyball Coach at Cal State University, Monterey Bay:
“The Women Coaches Academy was such a fantastic experience and I hope to attend the 2.0 as well. I’m so excited to take what I learned into this fall season and beyond – both for our team and myself. Liz’s sessions were so amazing, I am grateful for all that Liz and the women at WeCOACH do.”
Noelle Brouillard, Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach, Whitworth University:
“It was wonderful to meet Liz and experience the Women Coaches Academy, it honestly was the highlight of my year. The values session by Liz was one of my favorites from the Academy, one of my takeaways is I will create a Values poster for my office so my players, other staff members, and myself can see them every day. I am hoping our administration will look to send a female coach from our university every year to the Academy.”
A one-of-a-kind nonprofit dedicated to recruiting, advancing, and retaining women coaches in all sports and levels, WeCOACH provides year-round growth and development opportunities for women coaches, and these Academies are one of the many ways they are able to do this. Data from the last 19 years shows that those who graduate from the Academies remain in the coaching profession at a higher rate, which ultimately has a lasting impact on increasing the number of women in coaching.
This year’s WCA and Academy 2.0 coincide with the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the federal civil rights law that gave women equal opportunity in sports and opened the door for women’s sports to make ground and grow within the United States.
With this in mind, Vanessa shared what lies ahead for the Academies and WeCOACH as an organization,
“Our WeCOACH Board of Directors and staff are committed to identifying the critical funding necessary to host these Academies multiple times throughout each year (similar to what occurred prior to the global pandemic) as a way to elevate, amplify, and impact as many women coaches in our WeCOACH Community as possible. We are also exploring Academy opportunities for aspiring women coaches to help build the pipeline of future women coaches as well as additional Academy options for coaches who are graduates of WCA and Academy 2.0.”
Winning Ways of Women Coaches, by Dr. Cecile Reynaud
In line with the 50th anniversary of Title IX and reflecting this new era, comes a new book edited by volleyball coaching legend, Dr. Cecile Reynaud, and features 20 esteemed women coaches, representing 15 sports, who each contributed and examined a different coaching topic from their unique viewpoints. Together, these women coaches hold more than 50 National Championships, dozens of world and Olympic titles, and provide the expertise and inspiration for women to succeed in the profession of coaching.
Where to from here?
At Athlete Assessments, our support for the people and organizations who provide opportunities and pathways for women and girls in sport is unwavering. We have an entire resources section dedicated to resources about women in sport including articles which highlight some of the amazing women and women-led organizations we are fortunate enough to work with, like WeCOACH, as well as information on gender disparity in sport and important statistics and facts.
If you would like to discuss how Athlete Assessments can contribute to your program or initiative through the use of our DISC Profiles and tailored programs, we encourage you to reach out and contact us.
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Success factors, critical inclusions, and applied strategies will be interwoven in a ‘how-to’ presentation on coach education by an international panel of sports’ top women leaders from WeCOACH, The Tucker Center, Athlete Assessments, Japan’s Juntendo University, at the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport in Auckland, New Zealand, from November 14th-17th, 2022.
If you’re familiar with us at Athlete Assessments, you might know we’re big believers in gender equality and are passionate about equal rights, equal pay, equal opportunity, and equal recognition, not only just for female athletes, but for women in general.