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Featured in the Good Game by Melissa Jacobs

Before I can ask Pam Baker a substantive question, she has one for me: You mentioned you coach. What sport?  I beam, and excitedly tell her how I’m the assistant coach of my younger son’s soccer team. Then, as if on autopilot, I tamper down the volume and add a disclaimer. “BUT…I never played soccer as a kid, and I’m not very good. I thought I was signing up just to tie kids’ shoes except the coach has me play goalie,” I say it with a silly giggle that’s really a defense mechanism, as if the notion of me helping coach 8- and 9-year-olds in any way beyond the rudimentary is absurd. Baker stops me right there. She’s heard enough.  

Article at a Glance

- Pam Baker founded the Women's Coaching Alliance (WCA) in Northern California to create a pipeline of young female coaches and empower them to shift their mindset.

- Women often feel the need to list their qualifications or lack thereof when coaching, while men assume they can pick it up even if they have never played the sport.

- The lack of female coaches is a long-standing issue, with only 24% of youth coaches being women, according to the Aspen Institute Project Play, State of Play Report 2020.

- Organizations are trying to boost the number of female coaches, but execution has been lacking, and women are often an afterthought despite their playing experience and leadership qualities.

- The WCA focuses on developing young women, ages 15-25, as youth sports coaches and equips them with the necessary tools, such as practice plans, leadership academy training, and mentorship.

- Baker believes that dealing with difficult parents as a coach is an opportunity for young women to learn how to navigate challenging situations early on, which will benefit them in their future careers.

- The WCA pays their coaches to help them understand their self-worth and shrink the gender wage gap.

- The WCA model is gaining traction, with interest from the Golden State Warriors Youth Academy and the San Francisco 49ers in forging relationships to build a pipeline of female coaches.

- Having more women coaching will encourage more girls to play sports and provide a variety of role models for both girls and boys, ultimately benefiting everyone.

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