Truman’s lack of women coaching women’s sports is staggering

In my short time reporting for The Index’s sports section, I’ve written three stories on three different sports. With those three sports came three different head coaches: Jerod Simek from men’s and women’s swimming, Ben Briney from women’s volleyball, and Mike Cannon from women’s soccer. While these coaches have been very successful, indeed, your eyes do not deceive you — those are all men coaching women’s sports.

Women serve as the head coach for only two of the nine women’s teams offered at Truman State University. Men lead the other seven, along with every men’s team. Sadly, this lack of female representation in head coaching roles is nothing new at Truman.

For many of these programs, Truman is cutting corners by having one man oversee the men’s and women’s divisions of each sport, but that doesn’t justify the mostly male coaching histories of these programs. The women’s cross country, swimming, tennis, and track and field teams have been around for a combined 173 years, yet women have served as head coaches for these programs for only 21 of those years, a measly 12 percent. On average, each woman maintained her position for 1.6 years.

Truman soccer, notably, has separate coaches for the men’s and women’s teams, just like the basketball, baseball and softball programs. Nonetheless, the women’s soccer team has a man as head coach. Only one woman has ever served as head coach for Truman women’s soccer, and she only held the position for two years.

Our golf and volleyball programs’ structures are even weirder. Neither program has a men’s team, yet men lead these women’s teams. This is the only reality the women’s golf program has ever known. In contrast, the volleyball program hired women exclusively as head coaches until Qi Wang took over in 2001. Men have controlled the court ever since.

For more, pick up a copy of The Index on Thursday, Sept. 13.