Rush Female Coaches Alliance

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4

Feb, 2019

Women Expand Footprint with Rush Select

The number of women coaching in the Rush Select Program has grown steadily in recent years and the Rush Female Coaches Alliance Leadership Council sat down with Rush Select Director Brian Lux to learn more.

Rush Female Coaches Alliance (RFCA): There has been a marked increase in the number of women on Rush Select staff over the last few years. Share what the program's process was for realizing not enough women were involved and what the process was for getting more women involved.
Brian Lux (BL): It's a result of looking at the program; half of the players we have are females so why wouldn't we have at least half of the coaches be females? So part of it was a concerted effort to get more female coaches involved, which sometimes that can be tough because overall there are less female coaches in Rush compared to male coaches. And we looked at it as wanting the best coaches and have been deliberate in pushing towards more gender equality in the staff. We are proud that the 2006 Girls staff has a female head and a female assistant coach. There are several other female assistant coaches and at the ID camps, it was half (male coaching staff) and half (female coaching staff). I think there was one camp where it was even five female coaches and three male coaches.

RFCA: What is the Rush Select Program coach selection process like? Secondly, how did you learn about women who could be in consideration for Rush Select coaching positions? So many coaching jobs come about through who you know and networking and if women are not a part of the conversation, they can remain shut out. What was the process for Rush Select expanding their coaching network so more women could involved?
BL: The two biggest would be Technical Directors (TDs) recommending coaches and, probably the best one, the Mentor Program. Both Rush Wisconsin and Cascade Rush put forward their female directors - Jess (Nash, Rush Wisconsin Director of Youth Coaching) and Sara (Merrick, Director of Coaching Girls Elementary Age) have both worked out really well. We've involved the female TDs that we have in Rush - Lindsay (Smith, Montana Rush), Laila (Modi, Phoenix Rush), and Nicole (Lukic, Rush Wisconsin-West) have all been a part of the Program this year and Lindsay and Nicole are on the Select staff. Nicole does all of the operations and Lindsay does the camp coordination so we have gotten them involved even more than just coming to a camp or being on a team. The Mentor Program has given us the chance to see Mentor Program coaches in a Select environment, so we have gotten to see them and see the qualities that we like for our Select coaches. I think five of the six mentees from last year are involved in Rush Select now.

RFCA: So the fact that the Mentor Program makes a concerted effort to include more women directly and positively affects representation on the Rush Select side. Half of this year's six coach Mentor Program class are women so by default more women are being exposed to Rush Select and vise versa.
BL: Absolutely.

RFCA: Did you have specific communication with TDs asking if they had women on staff or did TDs just put forth their best and it just happened to be women and you jumped at including them?
BL: I didn't specifically ask TDs for male or female, I just said if you have a coach that you think deserves it, let me know. We're not necessarily trying to fulfill a quota but there is a concerted effort to include more female coaches who will do a good job and help the kids. Female coaches have been underrepresented and the ones we include bring value and do a good job.

RFCA: And there have been women involved in the past where it wasn't necessarily the right environment for them, just like with some male coaches, and you haven't kept them on just because they are women.
BL: No, not at all. If the coaches are not doing what we need to do and we are not being successful, then we replace them. On the Select teams, it's a little harder because we do not change those coaches out as often whereas with the ID camps, there is a lot of change in staff every year. I think it makes sense eventually for half of our teams to be head coached by women. It doesn't necessarily have to be the girls teams. We have a lot of female coaches involved in the ID camps for boys and girls and we have had female coaches on boys teams in the past.

RFCA: Did you hear any feedback from camp participants about the number of women involved?
BL: I didn't hear anything specifically but just looking at the kids, they worked as hard and gave as much respect to any of the coaches, whether they were men or women. There was never a question of "Oh, he's our coach" or "She's our coach", it was just "Coach". I think it really made the staff better. The way the staff interacted at the ID camps this year is the best that it has ever been. We were a real close group and everybody got along pretty well and everybody worked really, really well together. I think it was good to give some of the female coaches a chance to coach boys because I don't think a lot of times they get that opportunity just because the assumption is that they only coach girls. No, a coach is a coach and a player is a player, it doesn't matter if it's boys/girls or male/female. I think a lot of them really enjoyed that because it's not an opportunity that's not afforded to them at their clubs usually.

RFCA: Talking a little bit about the environment, studies across business and sport show that the more diversity you have, the more women you have in your organization, the more positive effects you have all around. There is greater diversity of ideas, better organization, a healthier environment exists - can you talk about the benefits to the Rush Select environment that having more women has had?
BL: Getting more women involved has helped the women feel less singled out or the ones not fitting in. It also makes sure the environment has been a professional one. I think this last set of ID camps felt like a safe and comfortable coaching environment. There wasn't anyone looking over anybody's shoulder and everyone was professional, which made it enjoyable. The diversity made it more interesting from a soccer standpoint because there were more points of view and it was more interesting from an interpersonal relationship standpoint because there were different thoughts and different ideas and philosophies that we could share with each other in a healthy setting.

RFCA: Have you heard anything from the people higher than you on the org chart about including more women or the make up of the staff?
BL: I haven't been given a mandate but I have told them what I was going to do and my direct supervisors have just wanted a good diversity of coaches. That has been more down to the diversity of states because we want to involve as many different clubs as possible. They have been very supportive of the staff I have put together, which has included women coaches who will do a good job and give a good experience to the kids.

RFCA: Going into the particulars of a coach, when you say 'good job', what are the qualities of someone who does a good job in the Rush Select environment on the technical and non-technical side? What attributes are you looking to bring into the staff so that coaches who are interested in becoming a part of this and, then if they are given the opportunity, can thrive by knowing what you look for and what they need to be prepared for?
BL: It's a unique environment, almost like coaching a national team just because you don't really have time to train the players and mold them into the type of team that you would if it were a team you were working with back home. Typically, these events are coming in, having one kickaround, and then playing games against some of the best teams in the country. So it's the coaches who can relate to the players right away, figure out where their best positions are in a very short amount of time, and keep those players confident. The players in Select are good and good enough to go be successful sometimes on their own if the coach does a good job of keeping them confident and keeping them working towards the same goal. I don't think it's necessarily the coach who can run the best training session or the coach who has won the most championships, it's the coach who can relate to the players the best and earn the players' trust in a very short span of time. Of course there has to be soccer knowledge there but for me that is secondary to the way the coach interacts with the players. If you watch the 'All or Nothing' with Manchester City, Pep Guardiola is good because of how he interacts with the players. The players love him. His tactics are good but the players love him, play for each other, and play for him. If we can get that in Select, teams will be successful all of the time.

RFCA: Is there anything about a coach that is disqualifying in the ID camps? The general journey of a Rush Select coach is to cut your teeth at an ID camp for a little bit and if you do a good job, you get worked into the coach rotation, which can sometimes take a couple years.
BL: I think the biggest thing is a coach not getting involved - not getting involved with the other coaches, not getting involved with the players. We don't do a coach evaluation but sometimes there are coaches that might be a little in over their head with some of the training or some of the tactical stuff we are trying to do. And of course any coach who does not represent the club in the right way does not continue with the program. The coaches who do really well in the ID camp environment are the ones we look for getting involved with a team.

RFCA: Is there anything RFCA can do to support the Rush Select Program?
BL: I think it's important for all of RFCA to be involved with Rush Select. Seven out of nine people on the Leadership Council are involved this cycle with Rush Select to some extent on the technical side, administrative side, or both. The next step is the Leadership Council encouraging other women coaches to get involved with Rush Select. I think they can be important voices in helping reduce the intimidation factor and are also great examples of women who have been in this environment. Engage your fellow women coaches and let them know about the experiences the Leadership Council members have had at Rush Select. I trust the RFCA members I know will put forward women they think will succeed so they can be an important part of growing our network of potential Rush Select coaches.

RFCA: Any other thoughts or comments on this topic?
BL: I am very happy with the staff. Probably 40 percent of the recommendations I am getting from TDs are female coaches. Whether that is a concerted effort by them or if that is just the way it is working out, I know it is a concerted effort to find and identify more (women). Again, we are not going to put someone on staff just because they are a woman or man, it is all about how they help the kids. But we are trying to open up as many opportunities as possible and the goal is to have the staff be 50-50 or as close to it was possible.

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