By Jazmine August
It seems like the idea of women in sports has been the buzz around the business over the last few weeks. Starting with San Antonio Spurs assistant coach, Becky Hammon, serving as the team’s NBA Summer League head coach, a first in men’s professional sports history. But Hammon didn’t stop there, she led the team to a championship during the tournament.
Women have been involved in sports for decades, from the league offices to reporting from the sidelines but we are now seeing women break into the coveted society of coaching men’s professional sports. Just two weeks after Becky Hammon broke headlines, the Arizona Cardinals named Dr. Jen Welter to their coaching staff throughout training camp and the pre-season working with inside linebackers. In a recent interview Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said, “Coaching is nothing more than teaching” and believes that, “One thing I have learned from players is, ‘How are you going to make me better? If you can make me better, I don’t care if you’re the Green Hornet, man, I’ll listen.’ I really believe she’ll have a great opportunity with this internship through training camp to open some doors for her”
And these women are more than qualified. Becky Hammon played 16 years in the NBA, was named WNBA All-Star six times, two-time All NBA first team and two-time Olympian with the Russian national team. Dr. Jen Welter has not only played 14 seasons with the Women’s Football Alliance, but she holds a masters in sports psychology and a doctorate in psychology all while winning two gold medals playing for Team USA in the International Federation of American Football Women’s World Championship in 2010 and 2013.
But before there was a Becky Hammon and a Dr. Jen Welter, there was Stephanie Ready, the first female assistant coach of a men’s professional team. She was named assistant coach of the NBA D-League now defunct team the Greenville Groove and she help lead them to a D-League Championship in the 2001-2002 season. Not only is Ready a woman which is a minority in the world of professional sports but she is a black woman. In an interview with on NBA.com, Ready states that “there were lots of sleepless nights up late watching video, writing scouting reports and doing game prep” but she added that “I did everything the right way and worked my tail off.”
Stephanie Ready is now gearing up for her 12th season as the Charlotte Hornets sideline reporter. She has also covered the NBA and WNBA playoffs and the NCAA Women’s basketball tournament for ESPN. Ready says that “being a double-minority if you will because I’m African-American and a woman in the sports industry, you have to really be conscientious of how you get to where you are and (again) who came before you”
Women like Stephanie Ready, Becky Hammon and Dr. Jen Selter who are blazing the path for young women with a deep affinity for sports inspire me to even believe that I can make my mark in this male dominated world. I know who’s shoulder’s I stand on.