Fair Game News Logo

Where are the moms? Why daughters need them coaching youth sports.

November 12, 2009 – 9:00 AM

By Emilie Liebhoff

It bugs me. I drive by the fields in my town – and I only see men coaching the soccer teams.  Don’t get me wrong. It’s wonderful when dads share quality time with their daughters and sons. But where are the moms?

Even in the backyard, it’s dad shooting hoops and playing catch. How can we get moms outside to play?

Our daughters now have the opportunity to play a variety of sports, but we still have too few female role models to guide them.  Showing girls that they can be strong, active, and capable women starts at home, with mothers.

Dolly Ryan (photo), did play basketball in high school and college and now coordinates the 7th and 8th grade youth basketball program in her community. She’s working to creating a co-coaching model that includes at least one female and one male coach for each team. Ryan says she “hopes that through youth basketball more mothers will see they can contribute through youth sports.” Most coaches are dads, she says.

Having moms in coaching positions, says Ryan, brings a valuable balance to a program, helping to “reflect what town sports should be about, i.e. community, having fun, living a healthy lifestyle, challenging yourself, being respectful of refs and coaches – and representing the town in a positive light both on and off the court.”


Contrary to popular belief, you can coach even if you haven’t played the sport. And – truly – your participation matters.  Just in case you need the nudge, here are six reasons why it’s beneficial for your daughters to see you coach:

1.    Doing something together other than shopping at the mall is a fun and alternative way to bond.
2.    She will see you as a whole new person (not just the one upset by the messy room) including as a skilled sportsperson, something we value in our society.
3.    You will feel important and proud of yourself – particularly if it’s a new sport for you.  (Note: When you feel good, your daughter will notice!)
4.    You can share firsthand in your daughter’s accomplishments as an athlete, plus she’ll develop her own self-confidence by wanting to show off her skills!
5.    Learning about your daughter’s sport allows you to be an educated fan and cheerleader.  Dads need not have a monopoly on sports knowledge and when you can talk about the passing game or staying goal-side when defending, she’ll notice.  It will take you from mom role to mentor role.
6.    Mothers can make great mentors, especially when daughters pursue sports.  And the benefits can go both ways. Getting involved in your daughter’s sport may inspire you to ramp up your own activity level. It can be an opportunity to get back to something you love or to redefine yourself!

Emilie Liebhoff is a former co-captain of Dartmouth College women’s ice hockey, mother of two daughters, and founder of Moms as Mentors and the Director of Strategic Initiatives at the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools.

  1. 3 Responses to “Where are the moms? Why daughters need them coaching youth sports.”

  2. Emilie
    Great perspective and one that I believe in completely
    Unless kids see their mothers playing sport and doing cool stuff, we cant get away from stereotypes.
    Moms who play are also healthier and set a great example of living a healthy lifestyle.

    By Anita Lobo on Nov 13, 2009

  3. So glad to read this! I have noticed the absence of mom coaches and wholeheartedly agree in the importance of their presence. I have made it a point to play sports with my son and daughter as much as possible(including paddle-ball and baseball on the beach this past summer, while 9 months pregnant!)–I know she needs EARLY exposure to female athletes. and i can’t wait to coach both her and my sons!

    By Katie on Dec 9, 2009

  4. Many of guys blog about this subject but you said some true words!

    By Tikeurike on Dec 11, 2009

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.