Bronx, NY – (September 14, 2022) – Fordham Cross Country/Track & Field today announced that it has received a grant from the Tara VanDerveer Fund for the Advancement of Women in Coaching from the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF). Grants have been awarded to institutions to support the increase in the number of female collegiate coaches, helping to cover living expenses, professional development and mentorship. Fordham is one of 10 universities and colleges to receive the grants, which are aimed at female coaches in a wide variety of women’s sports.
“We are proud to be part of this year’s class of Women’s Sports Foundation VanDerveer Fund recipients,” said Brian Horowitz, Fordham’s Cross Country/Athletics Head Coach. “We recognize the critical importance of closing the gender gap in the coaching ranks and seeing more women in these influential roles helps inspire our female student athletes. Our WSF Scholar VanDerveer, Nickela Austinis already a vital part of our Fordham Cross Country/Athletics program and this grant will allow her to continue to grow both as a coach and as a professional.”
Austin is in his second season as a member of Fordham’s cross country/athletics coaching staff. His specialties, sprints and horizontal jumps, came to the fore in his first season on staff, working with sprinters Kyla’s Hill and Catherine Kelly, both of which earned All-Atlantic 10 honors, as well as the 4×100 relay, which won a bronze medal at the 2022 Atlantic 10 Outdoor Championships and set a new school record. Hill set individual records in the 100 and 200 meters during the outdoor season, with Hill and Kelly both setting the school record in the 60 meters for the indoor track. Kelly also set the school record in the indoor long jump and was the Atlantic 10 outdoor long jump champion.
In the 50 years since the passage of Title IX, the percentage of women in college coaching positions has declined. In the 1970–71 academic year, 90% of all head coaches of women’s college teams were women. In 2021, women held just 41% of those positions in NCAA women’s sports. In the same year, only 28% of all NCAA assistant coaches were women. Additionally, BIPOC women are particularly under-represented in the coaching ranks, making up just 7% of head coaches in women’s sports and just 7% of all assistant coaches in both men’s and women’s teams.
The data clearly shows that there is a lack of women in coaching positions at all levels of sport. The WSF began awarding VanDerveer Fund grants in 2019 to change that at the college level. Aspiring female coaches can jump-start their careers and contribute to the growing representation of women in the coaching space through the opportunities they receive from the Tara VanDerveer Fund. Hired by educational institutions that receive the grant, WSF VanDerveer Scholars receive mentorship from established college coaches, hands-on training, and professional development resources.
Since its inception, the WSF Fund has provided a total of $800,000 to 33 colleges and universities across the country, supporting 35 fellow coaches in 11 different sports.
“Across all sports, women are underrepresented in positions of power and influence at senior management levels, including coaches,” said Danette Leighton, CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation. “WSF knows that glass ceilings are meant to be broken. That’s why we’re proud to continue to honor Tara VanDerveer’s historic legacy with this important fund to encourage and support women whose dream it is to lead the next generation of athletes.”
To learn more about the VanDerveer Fund and meet the 2022 grant recipients, please visit:
About the Women’s Sports Foundation
The Women’s Sports Foundation exists to enable girls and women to reach their potential in sport and in life. We are an ally, an advocate and a catalyst. Founded by Billie Jean King in 1974, we strengthen and expand opportunities for participation and leadership through research, advocacy, community programming and a wide variety of collaborative partnerships. From its inception through the 50th anniversary of Title IX in 2022, the WSF has invested more than $100 million in these impact efforts, helping shape the lives of millions of young people, high school student-athletes and college, elite athletes and coaches. We’re building a future where every girl and woman can #KeepPlaying and unlock the lifelong benefits of sport participation. All the girls. All the women. All Sports.® To learn more about the Women’s Sports Foundation, visit www.WomensSportsFoundation.org.