Jan. 30, 2007
WESTMINSTER, Md. - Robyn Jones of the Franklin & Marshall women's soccer team recently attended the Snell-Shillingford Symposium, hosted this year by McDaniel College. The Symposium is a weekend affair where female undergraduates from the Centennial Conference's eleven colleges and universities come together for seminars on various issues pertaining to coaching and athletics.
Based on findings in the Longitudinal Study of Women in Intercollegiate Sport by R. Vivian Acosta and Linda Jean Carpenter, the percentage of women coaches on the college level has been declining steadily since 1984. In response to those numbers, Jen Shillingford, former Director of Athletics at Bryn Mawr College, created the symposium in 1999 as the Snell Coaching Symposium to encourage women undergraduates to enter the field of coaching. Following Shillingford's retirement as the director of the event, the symposium was re-named the Snell-Shillingford Coaching Symposium to honor her contributions to women's athletics. Symposium participants are given the opportunity to speak with a panel of mentors, recent graduates, graduate assistants, and key women in the field of athletics.
According to Jones, this year's guests were both distinguished and inspirational, including Dr. Christine Grant from the University of Iowa. Dr. Grant is one of the leading women's rights / Title IX activists in the United States. She regularly lobbies congress on behalf of female athletes, as well as established and budding coaches around the country.
Her message outlined the importance that Title IX still maintains for women's athletics by ensuring equality in opportunity, but detailed a trend Jones found unnerving: 98% of all men's sports are coached by men, while only 42% of women's sports are coached by women. That marks the lowest percentage of women coaches since the inception of Title IX in 1972.
"Hundreds of thousands of women are playing sports in college, and millions in high school, but very few of those athletes continue on to be coaches once they are done with their schooling," says Jones. "As someone who is interested in coaching or playing after I get out of college, it makes me want to spread the information and let people know that this is a definite possibility, at any level."
"I really enjoyed the different perspectives that the symposium allowed us as student-athletes to see. Very rarely do you get the chance to get inside your coach's mind and understand why things work the way that they do. Coaching is so much more than what just goes on during practice and games. We learned the different roles played by coaches, and that you can be more than just a coach to your players. You can also be a friend and mentor."