When Natalie Randolph was named Head Coach of Coolidge High School’s football team, there was a tremendous amount of fanfare. ESPN, CNN and other news outlets loved the story, and why wouldn’t they? As only the second woman in the country to coach a high school varsity football team, Ms. Randolph was making history in a man’s sport and profession. Fittingly, Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty understood the historical importance of Ms. Randolph’s hiring and was quick to proclaim “Natalie Randolph Day” in the Nation’s Capital. Bravo!
I’ve been following this story since Ms. Randolph came into my purview seven months ago. When I first heard about her hiring, I thought, “Finally!!” It was obvious to me that there are many women who are just as knowledgeable about football as some men, because I’m surrounded by these women. However, suffice it to say that although Ms. Randolph became an instant media darling, not everyone was happy that a woman was hired to coach teenage boys. Some of her players transferred to other high schools, other men let it be known that Ms. Randolph, an African American female, didn’t belong in their ranks. It didn’t matter that Ms. Randolph was an accomplished athlete in her own right. She was a collegiate track star and a star wide receiver for the D.C. Divas, an Independent Women's Football League team. Oh yeah, she was also an assistant football coach at a rival D.C. high school for several years. Her football knowledge is unparalleled. I think the problem is that her potential success intimidates some men. Oh well!
Getting men to “buy in” to having women coaching football is truly a hard sell. I had to look no further than to my own son. Last year, the Commissioner of my son’s football league sent out an email in an effort to recruit coaches for the upcoming season. I happened to read this message aloud so that both my husband and son could hear. Instinctively, my son said, “Hey Dad, maybe you should coach.” My husband replied, “Maybe your Mom should coach since she knows more about football than I do.” Completely horrified, my son replied, “No, Mom can’t be the coach!” Of course I was listening to this conversation and couldn’t help but chime in. The end result was that I realized my son would not easily buy into having a female coach, even though he and I spent countless hours together watching and talking about football, and he was 10. Boy, do I have a lot of work to do.
Thus far in the season, the Coolidge Colts are 2-5 with three regular season games remaining. I love the fact that Ms. Randolph is breaking the glass ceiling and kicking in the door for other women to enter coaching. I wish Ms. Randolph much success this year and in the future. Go Natalie Go!!!