New Book Is for Female Coaches

By Staff

Coaching Management, 12.11, November 2004,

This winter, women who coach will have a new resource for developing their careers: advice from other women who coach. And not just any women, but women whose names appear in coaching halls of fame, on national championship trophies, and on lists of featured speakers.

In her new book, She Can Coach!, former Head Volleyball Coach at Florida State University Cecile Reynaud creates a window into the lives, philosophies, and strategies of 20 of the nation’s most decorated female coaches. The book’s 20 chapters, each written by a different coach, address an array of topics from a uniquely female perspective, from coaching ethics and motivating student-athletes to managing assistant coaches and developing a coaching philosophy.

The idea of writing a book especially for women who coach occurred to Reynaud several years ago, and when she retired in 2001 after 26 years at Florida State, she decided to make the idea a reality. "As a coach, I was always looking for material to read," says Reynaud, whose career victories placed her in the top nine among active NCAA Division I coaches before her retirement. "But almost everything I read was written by male coaches. I saw a need for a book by women coaches for women coaches."

There has been a decline in the number of women entering the coaching profession in the past decade, Reynaud adds, partly because female coaches face some unique challenges. "In many cases, they still don’t have the support that men’s programs do," she says. "They’re the head coach, but they’re also responsible for proofreading the media guide. It’s not uncommon for female coaches to simply get overwhelmed. I wanted to give young coaches a resource that says, ‘This is how some of the top women have done it.’ I’m hoping this book will give women the information they need to achieve more success and more sanity in their coaching."

Reynaud began by identifying 20 topics to be covered in the book. "They’re drawn from questions I’ve heard consistently over the years," she says. "How do you get kids motivated? How do you stay disciplined and teach your athletes discipline? How do you manage your time, deal with parents, approach recruiting? At every clinic I’ve ever done, these are the things women talk about."

She wanted readers to hear directly from successful female coaches in their own voices, so the next step was finding coaches willing to write each chapter. "I started researching top female coaches in a variety of sports and at a variety of levels," she says. "I wanted to speak to a wide audience—high school and Divisions I, II, and III."

Volleyball coaches who contributed chapters were Mary Wise, Head Coach at the University of Florida; Mary Jo Peppler, Director of Coaching for the Coast Volleyball Club in California; and Joan Powell, Head Coach at Coronado (Colo.) High School. The book also contains chapters by Margie Wright, Head Softball Coach at Fresno State; Nell Fortner, former coach of the WNBA Indiana Fever; and Pat Summitt, Head Women’s Basketball Coach at the University of Tennessee.

While the book’s authors coach sports from field hockey to rowing, Reynaud believes the content is easily transferable from court to field to water. As an example, she points to a chapter on team cohesion by College of New Jersey Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach Sharon Pfluger. "Her team has won six consecutive national championships, and the key to those successes is her understanding of how to treat young women as a team," Reynaud says. "The principles she discusses are valuable for coaches of any sport."

The coaches who wrote were extremely candid about their experiences, Reynaud adds. For example, University of Texas Head Swim Coach Jill Sterkel writes about stress management, and she doesn’t sugarcoat her own struggle with the issue. "Sterkel basically says, ‘I lived this. Let me tell you about it. I had to get medication because I was so stressed out. Let me tell you what I did to lighten up,’" Reynaud says. "It’s amazing to learn from someone at that level sharing that kind of experience."

While women are the book’s primary audience, Reynaud believes it also offers insight for male coaches. "There is no doubt that this is a different kind of coaching book, and there are things in here you’d never find in a book for men," she says. "But particularly for men who work with female student-athletes, I think there is a lot of wisdom here."

The book will be available in bookstores in late December and can be pre-ordered on the publisher’s Web site at: