Friday Night Tykes: How Women Shouldn’t Coach

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Anyone who knows me moderately well knows that I love me some Friday Night Tykes. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s a reality TV show based on youth football leagues in Texas and Pennsylvania. It’s packed with all the drama that comes from the combination of talented youth football players, questionable parenting and coaching and cable TV editing. I love it. While the show is understandably mostly about the boys who play and the men who coach them; occasionally, the storyline follows a young girl who dares to play with the boys or a woman who is knowledgeable and brave enough to stand on the sidelines as a coach. Last night, we got a glimpse at one of those women, but unfortunately, she was neither brave nor showed herself to be knowledgeable. On the contrary, she used very cowardly, thoughtless tactics in an effort to win a football game, and showed how women shouldn’t be coaching. Let me tell you what happened.

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GladiatHer® Gifts: What to Get the GladiatHers® in Your Life

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Black Friday is upon us, Christmas is right around the corner and we all know how stressful this time of year can be. Long lines, expensive gifts and extreme uncertainty on what to buy all seem to be the main issues for most of us. Luckily, we’ve created the perfect guide to Christmas shopping for the GladiatHers® in you life. These gifts can be given to female athletes, coaches, fans or executives you may know or even the ones you’re trying to get to know. Continue reading

GladiatHer Grads: Jacqueline McDevitt & Her Phan Cave

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I really need you all to understand that there are some pretty amazing woman who have played college sports. Legitimately amazing. Jacqueline McDevitt is one of those amazing women. She’s gone from lacrosse novice to expert coach and business owner in a matter of 10, short years. In following her passion for sports and branding, she has developed an ingenious way for sports fans across America to better enjoy their coveted tailgates. Check out what she shared with GladiatHers.com. Continue reading

KATINKA REMINDS US IT’S OK TO BE A TOUGH WOMAN

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We’re six whole days into the 2016 Olympics in Rio and the GladiatHers® of the world have not disappointed. They’re setting personal, Olympic and world records; inspiring us with their stories of perseverance and triumph; and even disappointing us in heartbreaking losses. The Olympics are absolutely meeting and surpassing my expectations. But in the midst of all the greatness, the media and the public have managed to give us far too many moments of mediocrity and stupidity. In instances where women are focused on winning gold medals and bringing glory to themselves, their families and their countries; people sitting at home and in their comfy news chairs choose to talk about hairstyles, unconventional family ties, the masculinity of performances and husband’s careers. Sigh. Listen, Gabby’s edges don’t need to be laid; Simone’s parents are her parents; Katie doesn’t swim like a man, she swims like Katie effing Ledecky; and Mitch Unrein’s wife has a name, it’s Corey Cogdell and she’s a hell of a shooter. I’m not sure why, but I still get surprised and disappointed with the routine refusal to acknowledge women for their greatness without making undercutting commentary.

Perhaps the most disappointing of the undercutting commentary has come at the expense of Katinka Hosszu, the Hungarian woman whose been racing out of her mind in Rio. After a disappointing showing in London in 2012, Katinka and her husband/coach Shane Tusup set out on a mission to come back to Rio stronger, faster and richer. By in large, they’ve done just that together. Thus far, Hosszu has set a new world and Olympic record and won three gold medals. Her dominance in the pool is unquestionable. Unfortunately, some commentators would like you to believe that Tusup and his coaching prowess are responsible for Hosszu’s success. Let’s be very, very clear; Hosszu is responsible for Hosszu’s success. Yes, Tusup has coached and likely inspired her, but at the end of the day, each and every athlete is responsible for his/her own success. Hosszu alone swam every practice and every meet. Hosszu alone earned each and every win and each and every dollar. She got her body up day in and day out, battled depression and defeat, and sacrificed normalcy for greatness. Any suggestion otherwise is rooted in pure sexist thought.

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But that’s not why I’m most upset at the coverage Hosszu’s been receiving. In addition to not being able to take credit for her own success, Hosszu’s had to endure pretty incessant conversation about her the health of her marriage and coaching relationship. From his poolside reactions, it is clear that Tusup is passionate about his swimmer’s success. He’s often found standing poolside intensely watching, cheering and directing Hosszu in practice and competition. Rumor has it that he has no qualms about letting her know when he’s proud or when he’s disappointed in her performances. He’s a coach who requires greatness from his swimmer. His passion has drawn attention from the public and questions about whether his coaching reaches abusive levels. Hosszu has repeatedly assured us that while there is no doubt that he is an intense, demanding coach, they have a healthy, loving relationship.

But Hosszu’s word doesn’t seem to be enough because, apparently, not only is she not strong enough to win on her own, but she’s also not strong enough to stand up for herself and endure grueling, strict coaching and training. The suggestions that Tusup is somehow abusing his wife and encouraging the usage of performance enhancers seems to be rooted in the media’s paternalistic view of female athletes, not fact. The world seems to hold a view that female athletes should be handled with kid gloves and shouldn’t be yelled at or pushed to the limit. We generally don’t bat an eye when we see intense men coaching men, but the sight of a man yelling at his female athletes often draws red flags. It draws red flags because society still wants women to be docile, helpless creatures who can’t handle toughness. Sure, some men can be abusive and some coaches can take it too far, so we should be mindful of dangerous behavior. But we’re dealing with an able-minded, world-class, adult athlete who has willingly entered into this relationship. Hosszu willingly decided that she needed a change and that her husband and his style of coaching were the best fit for the change. Hosszu and her swim times have shown that she is satisfied with Tusup’s coaching and their marriage. That should be enough.

Many seem to want Hosszu to be abused athlete, driven to cheating for the glory of her husband. That ain’t the story she or the facts are telling, so I’m not buying it.  The story I’m buying is one of the intense will and desire to win even if it’s painful and even if it’s unconventional. Some athletes need constant positive, calm reinforcement to be successful. But some athletes need coaches who pull greatness from them with yelling, intensity and relentlessness. It’s ok if athletes who need the latter happen to be women because you know what, women are tough. Women don’t always need to be coddled and they don’t always need someone to intrude into what works for them, even when it doesn’t fit society’s mold. If Hosszu needs demanding coaching to be great and she wants that intensity to come from her husband, we should be ok with that.

 

Beyond the Accolades: How Pat Summitt Changed My Life

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Over the next several days, you’re going to hear and read powerful stories about the late, great Patricia Sue Summitt. Family, friends, former players and coworkers, sportswriters and fans will all be sharing touching, personal moments from the life of the winningest basketball coach in NCAA Division I history. TV stations and online and print publications will remind you about her 1,098 wins, 8 national championships and 7 NCAA Coach of the Year awards. You’ll hear astonishing facts about her 38-year, Hall of Fame career as a basketball coach at Tennessee.  For instance, you’ll likely hear how the Lady Vols made 31 consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament and how every last one of her players who completed her eligibility at Tennessee graduated. That’s right, she made it rain in wins AND degrees.  You’ll read amazing quotes from her about competition, faith and perseverance.  You’ll undoubtedly learn about how she fought Alzheimer’s type-dementia with the same fervor that she fought on the basketball court.  You’ll hear some really wonderful  things about this woman.  And since you’ll hear all of those great things from other people, I decided that you didn’t need to hear them here, again.  Instead, I decided to share how Pat Summitt, a woman who I never met and who didn’t have the slightest idea about what GladiatHers™ is, changed my life.

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ANGIE LEWIS: HELPING ATHLETES HELP OTHERS

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A small percentage of high school athletes play sports in college. A very small percentage of those athletes go on to play their sport professionally. An even smaller percentage goes on to become coaches. And a still smaller percentage goes on to start their own companies and write their own books. Today, we are honored to feature a woman who fits into all of those very small percentages. Angie Lewis is a former college and professional basketball player who has gone on to influence the lives of others as a coach, an author and a businesswoman. She dedicates her time and effort to helping other athletes find and share their voices.  She truly is the epitome of a GladiatHer™. After meeting Angie, I just knew that her story had to be told, so what better place to tell it than here.

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In a League of Her Own

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Remember last year when I did a blog about Jen Welter and girls who play football?  No? Click here.  Well, Welter has officially moved on from playing professionally to coaching professionally.  The former running back for the Indoor Football League’s Texas Revolution is now a coach with the National Football League’s Arizona Cardinals. Yep, you read that right…the N. F. L.  This hire and announcement make her the first female coach in the history of the NFL.  Lest you think that Welter has appeared overnight, check out her pretty extensive resume.  In her 37 years on this earth, Welter has managed to play rugby at NCAA Division-I Boston College, play 14 seasons of women’s professional football, snag a master’s in sports psychology and a Ph.D. in psychology, win two gold medals with Team USA in the International Federation of American Football Women’s World Championships, become the first female to play a non-kicking position in a professional football league, and coach linebackers in two different men’s professional football leagues.  Whew! I got tired just writing all of that!  Needless to say, this woman is quite accomplished and well deserving of the opportunity to display her skills at the highest level of play.  Try to keep an eye out for Welter as she works alongside some of the best in the NFL as a training camp/preseason intern with the inside linebackers.