Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Chasing More Than Just Wins

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Chasing More Than Just Wins

Article excerpt

Black women coaches hope to inspire the next generation of athletes.

When Rene Portland ended her 27-year tenure as the head coach of the women's basketball team at Pennsylvania State University, the collegiate athletic community waited with anticipation to see who would succeed her. The answer came on April 23: Coquese Washington, an assistant and associate head coach at the University of Notre Dame for the past eight years. With the selection of Washington, the profile of Black women in Division I athletics took another step forward.

Washington has never shied away from being a leader. A graduate of both Notre Dame undergraduate and law school, she was executive vice president of the WNBA Players' Association during her six seasons in the league (1998-2003) and was instrumental in the current collective bargaining agreement that "introduced free agency to women's professional basketball.

"When people like myself, Tia Jackson, Carol Owens and other people get these kinds of jobs, it's important," says Washington, who was recruited by Penn State for the coaching job. "We have so many young ladies that are players in the game. It's important when they're going through the daily rigors of training to think they have an opportunity to make this a career. It's important that we're role models and important that we do good jobs so that the African-American girls can see and envision themselves being in the same position down the line."

Beverly Kearney, who has been the head coach of the University of Texas' women's track and field team since 1992, says she chose to work at Texas because of the exposure it provided her. "You always realize that what you do as a minority coach - especially as an AfricanAmerican female - is greater than your win-loss record," she says. "We impact how administrators around the country see women and African-Americans.

"You have a responsibility that goes beyond the playing field," she continues. "You have a responsibility to teach and to inspire young people in terms of intellectual wisdom and not just academic wisdom. You teach life skills and how to be successful as an African-American in our society and as a woman in our society."

Tina Sloan Green, professor emeritus at Temple University's College of Education, was the first Black head coach in the history of women's intercollegiate lacrosse. …

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