Where are all the female coaches?

The Star Tribune’s David La Vaque reports today that in women’s high school hockey, only 21 percent of the state’s programs are coached by women. And no team led by a woman has ever won a state title.

There’s a reality about the State of Hockey — it can be stuck in the ’60s when it comes to female coaches and the way parents and players react to the notion that women know a thing or two about the game.

Caesare Engstrom, in her eighth season as an assistant at Hill-Murray, said she attended a coaches educational function last fall in Blaine. The male head coach of a team on Hill-Murray’s schedule throughout Engstrom’s tenure asked who she coached for.

Mounds View co-head coach Christina Hanson said that on several occasions, opposing coaches shook hands with Aaron Moberg, her male counterpart, but ignored her.

“You cannot be a weak-minded female and coach in this game,” Hanson said.

From the sound of things, the toughest obstacle is the female players.

“They told me, ‘We don’t want you,’ ” said Jessica Christopherson, who was hired to coach Coon Rapids in 2010. “They had never played for a female head coach.”

  • I play in a couple adult hockey leagues (AHA and HockeyFinder) that have both men and women on the rosters and have found that most of the women in those leagues are MORE than able to hold their own on the rink.

    Most have the ability and knowledge to outplay a lot of the men in those leagues and are viewed as equals by everyone associated with these leagues.

    It’s a shame that in this day and age there is still a “Boy’s Club” when it comes to organized sports…

  • kennedy

    You know, women could do something about it. Recreational teams and younger teams run mostly on volunteers. Women could volunteer, but my personal (unscientific) observations show that it is rare for women to volunteer as coaches. Having a limited a pool with recreational coaching experience, I would expect it to also be uncommon for women to coach at more competitive levels.

    • Kassie

      I had tons of women coaches growing up in sports. Thinking back to Junior High, most of my coaches for school sponsored sports were women. In high school, my B squad and JV coaches were all women too, including when I played JV hockey. So maybe women can’t “do something about it.” If you apply for a head coaching job and someone else gets the job, what exactly are you supposed to do?

      • kennedy

        Coaches with success will get promoted. The place to start coaching is youth hockey. It is an open opportunity. I took a quick look at the Edina youth hockey program. The volunteer coaching population for the girls teams is about 20-25% women. Some names are gender neutral, so it’s hard to say exactly. I don’t find it surprising that the demographics of higher level coaching match the demographics for entry level coaching.

        I prefer to look at the glass half full. Girls hockey only became an official high school sport in Minnesota in 1995. There were 24 teams that year. Now there are nearly 130 teams. Six years ago, there were no female head coaches in Minnesota girls high school varsity hockey. Now there are 26.