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Women Athletic Directors Lead Two of the Top Five College Football Programs

By Rachel DeSchepper


“This is huge!”

That’s what Patti Phillips exclaimed from her office the morning of December 5, as she typed out an email to us, her staff: “Two of the top five teams currently have women athletic directors, and Western Michigan is #15 right now…another woman AD. This is such an important milestone for women— it shows that women CAN run successful big-budget football programs, despite the myth that they can’t.”

We get emails like this that celebrate our members from Patti often. (They’re frankly the best part of our jobs!) This time, however, the celebration is particularly groundbreaking: To our knowledge, there have never been two teams with a top five ranking in the College Football Playoffs with a woman leading their athletics departments. But this year, Jen Cohen’s University of Washington Huskies are ranked #4, the Pac 12 champs, and headed to the Peach Bowl; Sandy Barbour’s Penn State Nittany Lions are ranked #5, the Big 10 champs, and headed to the Rose Bowl; and Kathy Beauregard’s Western Michigan Broncos are ranked #15, the Mid-American Conference champs, and headed to the Cotton Bowl. Are you kidding? As Patti says, “women rock!”

“The more women we see in these [AD] positions, the more likely we’re going to have more women who know that they can do it,” Cohen says in a phone conversation last Wednesday. “I think that that’s impactful and that tells a story for other women.”

But as we all know, getting to this point in a woman’s athletic career—especially at a Power 5 school, or on the Bowl Championship level—is not without its challenges and misconceptions. “Women don’t play football. So the question is always how does a woman manage a big-time college football program?” Barbour tells us. “The fact of the matter is, we manage it the same way we oversee wrestling or ice hockey, or some other sport we have in place. Having Jen and I with teams in that top 5, and us going to the Rose Bowl and Washington going the CFP … I think that starts to dispel that myth a little bit.”

For Cohen, who was promoted to athletic director at UW this past June and is in her 18th year at the university, past experiences helped pave the way to her new role. “These jobs are all about fit: Do you match up with what this institution represents, and what this athletic department stands for, and what this community believes in? This has been a great cultural fit, and it’s been the right partnership for the university and for me,” she says. “With all that being said, I’m not sure if anything prepares you for this position until you’re in it. The biggest challenge is really understanding leadership at this level: You’re working to bring hundreds of employees, hundreds of student-athletes, thousands of fans and community members all together under one mission. That’s an unbelievable task. I’m constantly learning and growing and evolving.”

Read the full story here.

Congratulations to our member, UW, for their great season thus far!


The Greening of Tennis – US Open Green Initiative

By Rich Neher

Image from Rich Neher/LA Tennis Examiner

Image from Rich Neher/LA Tennis Examiner

“To solve the serious environmental problems facing our planet, we need to shift our culture toward more sustainable practices. Sports are hugely influential and can play a significant role in causing a ‘green’ ripple effect of enormous proportions, encouraging industries and consumers alike to improve the choices they make every day. I’m proud to have co-founded GreenSlam and help launch the greening of the US Open and the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center with NRDC, and I applaud the work they are doing to green professional sports.” — Tennis Legend, Billie Jean King

Environmental Responsibility for a Sustainable Future
Prior to 2008 The USTA Board was tasked with lessening the environmental footprint and helping to create a sustainable future for the largest-attended annual sporting event in the world, the US Open Tennis Championships. Quote from the USTA web site: “Since the inception of the initiative in 2008, the USTA has diverted 1,300 tons of waste through recycling and composting, saved 2,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, offset enough electricity to power over 1,000 homes for one year, recycled 2.2 million plastic bottles, and entertained 2.4 million fans who have arrived via mass transit. Each year the US Open increases the amount of waste it diverts from landfills and last year’s event had the greatest impact diverting over 60% of its waste through recycling and composting.”

“Our courts may be blue, but we’re thinking green”
That’s the environmental pledge of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), which hosts more than 700,000 fans each year during the two weeks of the US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Just by switching the paper used to print programs to 100 percent post-consumer recycled content, the USTA saved 2,123 gallons of wastewater and avoided emitting 441 pounds of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases and 129 pounds of solid waste.

Leading the charge for the USTA as it relates to the US Open Green Initiative is Lauren Davis, Senior Manager, Strategic Initiatives at headquarters in White Plains, NY. The former Litigation Case Manager for an international law firm, joined the USTA in 2006 as Senior Paralegal in the Professional Tennis Department and became Senior Manager, Strategic Initiatives in 2010.

Davis says that the US Open “is focusing on showing fans that attend live tennis events that the reuse practices in place really pay off.” Examples: Waste generated from the previous year is recycled as compost to feed flowers on the Open grounds. Tennis ball cans become lanyards the following year. Seventy thousand spent tennis balls are strategically reused.

Davis suggests that the tennis fans “know what they are supposed to be doing and they know it’s important not only for the US Open, but also for the entire country.”

Read the full article and Q&A with Lauren Davis here.

Arizona Cardinals Hire First Female Coach in NFL History

The Arizona Cardinals have hired the first female coach in National Football League history, the team and the NFL said Monday.

Jen Welter, a former rugby player at Boston College, played 14 seasons in women’s pro football and was the first woman to play a non-kicking position in a men’s pro league — as a running back for the Texas Revolution of Indoor Football League.

Jen Welter

“I want little girls everywhere to grow up knowing they can do anything, even play football,” Welter said last year on NBC’s TODAY.

With the Cardinals, Welter will work with inside linebackers as a training camp-preseason intern coach. She’s also a veteran at coaching men, moving to the Cardinals from the Revolution, for whom she was linebackers and special teams coach.

The NFL confirmed Monday night that she is the first female coach in league history.

Welter, 37, won gold medals with Team USA in the International Federation of American Football Women’s World Championships in 2010 and 2013, and she has a master’s degree in sports psychology and a Ph.D. in psychology.

The move is something Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has talked about before, saying in an interview in March that the league would hire female coaches if they “can prove they can make a player better.”

“Coaching is nothing more than teaching,” Arians said Monday. “The one thing I’ve learned from players: All they want to know 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. I’ll listen.'”

Welter joins Becky Hammon among the very small group of women coaching major-league men’s sports. Hammon was hired last season as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association — just last week, she led the Spurs’ developmental team to the NBA Summer League championship.

Nor will Welter be the only woman on an NFL field this year. In April, the league hired Sarah Thomas, a respected men’s college football official, as its first full-time female game official.


Read the article from NBC news.

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