Category Archives: Gender Equality

Spurs Hire Becky Hammon and Shatter the Glass Ceiling

On Tuesday the San Antonio Spurs made history when Popovich made Becky Hammon the first full-time female assistant coach in NBA history.

A star on the court, Hammon will make this upcoming season- her 16th- her last and will right away jump into her new coaching gig.  Becky is confident in her basketball IQ, noting that she has a “very cerebral approach” to the game. Looks like Pop agrees. He made it a point to make sure she was the right fit for the job.

She has excelled on the court over her 16-year career and proven an aptitude for coaching during her time getting to know the Spurs organization through her off-season “internship” where she earned respect from the players and really demonstrated her ability to communicate and lead from the court (not much different than her style of play!).

So the big question: what does this mean for other women who once thought they could only hope for an opportunity to coach in the NBA? It means there’s a shot, but there’s still work to be done. Turns out, it’s not a question of ability in the way many would think. It’s more a question of fit. As Pop and the Spurs made clear, the position was open to the best, most qualified candidate. Women have long demonstrated excellent capacity to coach at a high level; but few have knocked on the NBA’s door, most likely assuming there wouldn’t be a chance.  It just takes a different perspective, one that Becky Hammon clearly has:

AP Photo/Bahram Mark Sobhani

In Hammon’s words,“when it comes to things of the mind, things like coaching, game-planning, coming up with offensive and defensive schemes, there’s no reason why a woman couldn’t be in the mix and shouldn’t be in the mix.”

I couldn’t agree more. Ladies, if we believe in ourselves, we will show others why they should believe in us. It’s said confidence is key; I’d add ambition, tenacity and humility to the recipe for game changers. We will continue to break barriers if we stand strong, dream big, fight hard and learn always.

Proving Her Pointe: Misty Copeland, The Unlikely Ballerina

At 13 years old, Misty Copeland began to shatter the mold for elite ballerinas. Starting late in the game without the ideal body type, no one would have guessed she’d make ballet history. Now a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theater, Misty is the third black female dancer to solo with the company and the first to dance as principal in famed productions Firebird and Coppélia. 

Overcoming a tough childhood–facing homelessness and financial scarcity with her mother and siblings– to excel in dance with the help of mentors and coaches has led Misty to inspire the next generation of ballet dancers. She mentors through ABT’s Project Pliéa comprehensive initiative to increase diversity in elite American ballet companies.  In a recent interview, Misty expressed to Elle Magazine,  “I had some really incredible people who mentored me, and gave me things I never got from my parents. I think it’s so important for young dancers of color to have someone who looks like them as an example—someone they can touch.” 

Now a face of Under Armour’s I WILL WHAT I WANT campaign, Misty Copeland is a beacon of inspiration for young athletes–particularly young, minority, female athletes–who face overwhelming life circumstances and opposition in their athletic careers.  As she continues to break down barriers, I can only hope that young athletes heed her example and strive for greatness themselves.

Only by perseverance, tenacity and determination will ground be gained for the unlikely athletes– the underestimated, the late bloomers, the wrongly built, the ill-trained, the ones that were told they’re too much of the wrong and not enough of the right. You know what they say: where there’s a will, there’s a way. So keep your eye on the prize and give it all you’ve got. #IWILLWHATIWANT

You Go Girl! Celebrating Women’s Equality Day

Photo Credit: Glyn Kirk/AFP - Getty Images via NBC News Photo Blog
Photo Credit: Glyn Kirk/AFP – Getty Images via NBC News Photo Blog

Last year marked the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the statute that forever changed the game of women’s athletics.  Since it’s passage, Title IX has facilitated a more than 900% increase in girls’ participation in sports.  August 26th has been deemed Women’s Equality Day, an occasion to celebrate and recognize women’s achievements stemming from the success of the Women’s Suffrage Movement winning women the right to vote in 1920.

Nearly 100 years later, the sports world can look to premiere female athletes and business leaders who continue to break records and empower young women to leverage sport as they strive for their goals.

Check out my full article here on Sports Networker!