Women in sports

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History is something that is always looking to be made, whether it is on a court or field with record breaking stats or on the sidelines during a historic first. All the men and women playing and coaching at all levels of their respective sports are always looking to make history, right?

Well, that isn’t true for one of the most highly respected coaches in the NBA today, Gregg Popovich, the head coach of the San Antonio Spurs. 

That is because on Saturday Nov. 16, in the Spurs game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Popovich got ejected from the game during the third quarter, leaving the coaching situation in a confusing state. In most cases, it is easy to tell who is left in charge of the team, the head assistant coach, but this time it was a little different. 

After Popovich left the game, who did he leave in charge? Was it Tim Duncan, legendary Spurs assistant coach but only in his first year, Will Hardy, a fourth year assistant coach or Becky Hammon, sixth year assistant coach who is also currently at the front of the bench. It was hard to tell during the game because for the most part it looked like a group effort, but Popovich cleared up this situation in a postgame media scrum.

Popovich was asked about who was left in charge and, without thought, he answered Duncan. 

Well, the answer is right there according to Popovich, so why is this so important? The reason is because if he said it was Hammon, that would have meant she made history, becoming the first woman ever to be the head coach of a major men’s professional sports team in the United States. 

So after he was asked this question, a reporter pointed this out to him, to which he said, “I’m not here to make history.”

This straight to the point response by Popovich has some people turning their heads and wondering if he just took away the chance for a very deserving woman to make history.

Which, to be fair, because he is the head coach of an NBA team, it shouldn’t be the first thing that comes to mind when getting ejected from a game, but it still feels like he just took away a huge opportunity and spotlight from Hammon. It might leave a bad taste in some people’s mouths. 

This one instance should not overshadow all the history that has been made by women coaches in the NBA and across other leagues, and it started with the Spurs coach herself, Becky Hammon. 

In 2014, Hammon became the first full-time assistant coach for an NBA team, the San Antonio Spurs, and since then, many have followed her down this path. 

Currently 11 women serve as assistant coaches in the NBA, ranging from three year coach Jenny Boucek, who was formerly a Sacramento Kings player development coach and is now currently on the coaching staff for the Dallas Mavericks, to Kara Lawson, who was one of the first primary female TV analysts for an NBA team and is now an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics. 

This movement isn’t just happening in the NBA though. Women are breaking coaching barriers in the NFL as well. 

On the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coaching staff alone, there are two women currently in coaching positions, assistant strength and conditioning coach Maral Javadifar and assistant defensive line coach Lori Locust. Other teams like the San Francisco 49ers also have women in key coaching roles, which would be unheard of in the NFL 10 years ago. 

Women aren’t just making huge names for themselves on the sidelines though, they are doing it on the court as well; one of the biggest names in college basketball today is senior Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu. 

To start off, she currently holds the record for most triple-doubles in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) history, men or women, with 19 games, a number that will surely go up during the rest of the season. In this past month alone, she has also led the Oregon Ducks to a 93-86 victory over the U.S. National Team in a friendly exhibition, making the team only the second college team to beat the U.S. in program history. Her Nike jersey also sold out in less than 24 hours of going onto the market. 

Ionescu is also the projected number one pick in the WNBA Draft, and it is not hard to see why. Whatever team is lucky enough to get her on their roster is going to have a huge star on their hands. 

The women’s winter sports teams at Rowan are looking to get off to a hot start to their season, and so far it is looking good for both teams. 

The Rowan women’s basketball team is currently undefeated at 3-0 and they just won the Hunter College Tip-Off Classic, with freshman Nicole Mallard winning the MVP award.

The swimming and diving team is also looking strong, with a 3-1 record and are currently on a winning streak going into their next meet. 

All in all, whether it is the coaches on the professional level or the teams here at Rowan, women in sports deserve your attention.

For comments/questions about this story, email sports@thewhitonline.com or tweet @TheWhitOnline.

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