Can we agree on two things?

First, the word coach, when used as a noun, does not imply a gender. By definition, it means somebody who trains athletes, performers, students, etc.

Second, a good coach promotes safety, fun, learning and a positive team culture, regardless of winning or losing.



Recently, I received an email from a girls’ lacrosse coach who was not permitted to hire a male assistant. The coach was flabbergasted that in 2014, a candidate for a position would not be considered because of gender.

Administrators, however, felt it was best to have a coach on the sidelines that was the same gender as the athletes, regardless of whether or not the candidate was the best person for the job.


The US Lacrosse Coaching Education Program hears frequently that the women’s game is being ruined by the influences brought to it by male coaches. Was math or physical education ruined in school for your child because the teacher was one of one gender or another?

I am not naïve enough to believe there are not issues that need to be handled carefully when men coach girls or women coach boys. Kids need people that can understand and appreciate their needs. Moreover, it’s important to understand the intricacies of the men’s and women’s games.

But a well-trained coach can do that, regardless of gender.

Good coaching comes in all shapes, sizes and genders. The San Antonio Spurs in August hired six-time WNBA all-star Becky Hammon as an assistant, making her the first female coach in NBA history. Closer to home, Johns Hopkins last year added Steele Stanwick to its women’s lacrosse coaching staff.

These people are the best candidates to help their teams succeed. Our schools hire teachers that are the best candidate for teaching our kids. Why should we expect anything different when hiring coaches?Here’s my challenge to coaches: Look beyond gender when applying for that next coaching job. Don’t limit yourself to the men’s game or women’s game. If you believe you’re qualified for the job, go after it.

And here’s a challenge for program administrators: Choose the best candidate for the job. A coach is not a man or a woman. A coach is a teacher, a leader, a mentor and a positive role model for the athletes under his or her supervision.

If you want your team to reach its potential, hire the coach that can get it there in a safe, fun, educational and positive way.

Let’s turn it over to you. Is this mindset something you’ve experienced in lacrosse? How can the men’s and women’s games borrow from each other while maintaining game integrity? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

TJ Buchanan is the coaching education manager at US Lacrosse. Want to hear from TJ on another topic or issue? Suggest ideas in the comments section.