Women’s Sports Foundation Continues to Provide Grants to Aspiring Women Coaches Through the Tara VanDerveer Fund for the Advancement of Women in Coaching

Throughout the Fund’s five-year history, the Women’s Sports Foundation has provided $1 million to 38 colleges and universities throughout the country to close the gender gap in coaching.

Published on September 12th, 2023

New York, NY (September 12, 2023) — The Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) announces the fifth cohort of grant recipients for its Tara VanDerveer Fund for the Advancement of Women in Coaching. Named for legendary Stanford University women’s basketball coach Tara VanDerveer, the Fund has provided a total of $200,000 to 10 colleges and universities this year, for a coaching fellowship at each institution. Since the Fund’s inception in 2019, WSF has provided $1 million to 38 colleges and universities throughout the country, supporting 43 WSF VanDerveer Fellows across 12 different sports. This year’s class of WSF VanDerveer Fellows span across six sports, including strength and conditioning and the Fund’s first-ever adaptive sport. 

Since Title IX’s passage, the percentage of women in collegiate coaching roles has declined by more than 50%. During the 1970-71 academic year, 90% of women’s college teams had women as head coaches. Fast forward to the 2021-2022 academic year, where women held only 41% of head coaching positions in women’s NCAA sports. Furthermore, BIPOC women, who have historically been under-represented in the coaching ranks, held only 7% of head coaching roles in women’s NCAA sports. In the same year, only 28% of all NCAA assistant coaches were women, with only 7% of all assistant coaches for men’s and women’s teams being BIPOC women. 

According to the data, there is a clear lack of representation in coaching positions throughout the country; WSF is addressing this by growing the pipeline at the collegiate level by awarding grants from the VanDerveer Fund. Throughout the grant year, WSF implements a program for VanDerveer Fellows that opens doors to mentoring opportunities with coaches and leaders in the collegiate space, including a call with Tara VanDerveer and invitations to workshops addressing topics to help aspiring women coaches thrive in today’s collegiate sports landscape. 

“Receiving the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Tara VanDerveer Fund for the Advancement of Women in Coaching was an honor that helps me see a long-term future in coaching and athletics,” said Sam Benzing, WSF VanDerveer Fellow 2022-2023 and The Paul J. Finnegan Family Head Coach for Harvard Nordic Skiing. “As a Fellow, it has been an honor to learn from some of the best in the nation as I work towards my goal of pursuing a career in sport performance and coaching.”

The Fund has seen success and has made an impact during its short lifespan. Out of the first four classes, 25 VanDerveer Fellows continue to lead in coaching roles, six have stepped into head coaching positions and four have used their fellowship experience to secure jobs in a sports-related field. 

“We at the Women’s Sports Foundation know that building a strong pipeline for women in leadership is vital to ensure the sports ecosystem for girls and women continues to grow on and off the field of play,” said WSF CEO Danette Leighton. “When girls and young women have powerful role models to look up to, such as coaches and beyond, it empowers them to keep playing and strive to reach their own full potential. That is why we are determined to continue our work to close the coaching gender gap with this important Fund that honors Tara VanDerveer’s history-making legacy.”

2023 Grant Recipients: 

Central College   Basketball
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges Golf
Clark University Soccer
D’Youville University Strength & Conditioning
Fordham University Cross Country/Track & Field
Grinnell College Volleyball
Saint Michael’s College Strength & Conditioning 
Tufts University  Basketball
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Wheelchair Basketball
Washington and Lee University Basketball 

For more information about the Tara VanDerveer Fund, please click here.

About the Women’s Sports Foundation
The Women’s Sports Foundation exists to enable girls and women to reach their potential in sport and life. We are an ally, an advocate and a catalyst. Founded by Billie Jean King in 1974, we strengthen and expand participation and leadership opportunities through research, advocacy, community programming and a wide variety of collaborative partnerships. From its inception to Title IX’s 50th anniversary in 2022, WSF has invested over $100 million in these impact efforts, helping to shape the lives of millions of youth, high school and collegiate student-athletes, elite athletes and coaches. We’re building a future where every girl and woman can #KeepPlaying and unlock the lifelong benefits of sport participation. All girls. All women. All sports® To learn more about the Women’s Sports Foundation, please visit www.WomensSportsFoundation.org

Media Contact:
Kandice Miller
Women’s Sports Foundation