By Liz Masen and Kate Ross

Skills development, retention, mentoring and collaboration for Women Coaches

The NCAA Women Coaches Academy (WCA) celebrated its 30th program in 2013, and continues to be the most respected and sought after coach development program available to female coaches in the US.  Having produced more than 1,100 graduates over the last decade, its central aim is to advance the coaches’ existing skills with professional development in areas outside the specifics of their own sport, and emphasize the importance of management skills, communication, decision-making, leadership and ethics.

Director of Education, Ann Salerno says “We assist coaches in understanding that career success will never come simply via the X’s and O’s. Successful coaches must be able to utilize knowledge and teach. They must be able to set goals, measure progress, motivate and re-strategize when needed. The best coaches communicate in ways that are appropriate and resourceful for the situation. It does not happen by accident or in proportion to the love of competition. It happens with dedicated on-going effort to become competent, and then extraordinary.”

Ann feels that the commitment and energy that the coaches have for their career development is always a high point of the Women Coaches Academy.  The women are dedicated to doing whatever it takes to rejuvenate, learn, become more marketable and focus on increased success.

The NCAA Women Coaches Academy sets up mentoring and collaborative efforts within the Academy, believing that when the best minds in female coaching come together in a collective educational environment, the best results can be achieved.  Inaugural WCA graduate and Head Softball Coach at Missouri State, Holly Hesse, has worked with the WCA since 2003. She says the most important benefits are “Skill building and networking. These are the prerequisite for success in any industry.  It is extremely rewarding when a coach says they were thinking about leaving the profession but come out the other side of the Academy with a desire to stay and be better.”

Part of the Academy is assisting them in mapping their future goals for their coaching career and encouraging them to mentor their athletes to become the next generation of women coaches. Across US collegiate sports, women hold only 20% of top coaching jobs.  Women coach just 4% of men’s sports and yet men are the head coach for over 60% of women’s sports.  Co-founder Celia Slater has her eye firmly on the disparity in jobs between genders, citing the need for opportunities for female coaches. “Women need more jobs and more opportunities. A common misconception is that men can coach either gender, but women can’t. There needs to be more professional development and more ways to stay connected, grow and get support.”

Co-founder Judy Sweet, says she loves seeing the transition that occurs over the week at the Academy, that many coaches describe as life changing. “They realize that they are not alone with the challenges they face and that they have a support system to get them through the good and bad times. They gain knowledge and skills that lead to better coaching, more self-confidence, better experiences for their athletes, and more success.”

Judy encourages coaches to be life-long learners throughout their career, to find role models and then watch, listen and learn.  She advises to prepare, take calculated risks in advancing your career, and only accept jobs that you feel you will be supported in and can grow.  “And as you grow and succeed, mentor other women coaches so they have opportunities to also grow and succeed. You are making an incredible difference in the lives of your athletes and in the world of sports.  We need you!”

The NCAA Women Coaches Academy has used Athlete Assessments’ CoachDISC Profile within their program since 2008.

At Athlete Assessments, we’re here to provide you with excellence in service and to help you be your best. If there is anything we can assist you with, please Contact Us.

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Bo Hanson

Senior Consultant & Director

Bo Hanson’s career within the sport and the business sector spans over 25 years, delivering leadership, management, and coach development. In addition to his own athletic career comprising of four Olympic appearances and including three Olympic medals, Bo has worked for many years with coaches and athletes from over 40 different sports across the globe. Bo was also the winner of the Australian Institute of Training and Development (AITD) 2023 Award for L&D Professional of the Year, for his dedication to L&D and transformational work across various industries.

After a successful career in sport including four Olympics and three Olympic Medals, Bo co-founded and developed Athlete Assessments in 2007. Bo now focuses on working with clients to achieve their own success on and off ‘the field’, and has attained an unmatched track-record in doing exactly this.

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