Wellesley Receives Tara VanDerveer Fund for the Advancement of Women in Coaching Grant from The Women’s Sports Foundation

Women's Sports Foundation Logo with a Wellesley Volleyball net.
Wellesley is one of 10 universities and colleges to receive a Tara VanDerveer Fund for the Advancement of Women in Coaching grant.

WELLESLEY, Mass. -- Wellesley College announced today it received a Tara VanDerveer Fund for the Advancement of Women in Coaching grant from the Women's Sports Foundation (WSF). Grants were awarded to institutions to support collegiate female coaches on the rise, assisting with living expenses, professional development and mentorship. Wellesley is one of 10 universities and colleges to receive the grant, which will be designated for a female coaching fellow in women's sports as diverse as field hockey, wrestling, basketball, volleyball, softball and strength and conditioning. 

"We are thrilled to be part of the inaugural group of Women's Sports Foundation VanDerveer Fund recipients," said Bethany Ellis, Director of Athletics and Chair of the Department of Physical Education, Recreation, and Athletics at Wellesley College.

"Since its founding, Wellesley has recognized the importance of physical fitness and well-being for every student. At Wellesley our coaching faculty not only instruct during competition, but they are also a critical part of our Physical Education program. Our coaches support all of our students and we understand the critical importance of closing the gender gap in the coaching ranks, especially at Wellesley, where we are working every day to build strong women leaders."

This grant has allowed Wellesley to hire Kaitlin Bradshaw '14, a Wellesley graduate and former volleyball student-athlete as an Assistant Coach for the 2019 season. Bradshaw, who previously served as a volunteer assistant for the Blue has already been hard at work throughout preseason and the start of the team's regular season.

The Women's Sports Foundation, inspired by the legendary Stanford University women's basketball coach, created the Tara VanDerveer Fund to directly address the alarming decline of women in coaching. In the 1970-71 academic year, 90 percent of all head coaches for women's college teams were women. By 2017, 45 years after the passage of Title IX, that number had dropped to 40 percent among NCAA sports. While women's representation as head and assistant coaches of women's sports can vary by sport, this underrepresentation is systemic and cannot be attributed to just one sport or division. Furthermore, women of color are particularly under-represented in the coaching ranks, making up just 5.6 percent of head coaches of women's sports, and only 3.5 percent of all head coaches, men's and women's teams. [As reported by NCAA in 2017.]

"The lack of female coaches is so alarmingly evident across all levels of education – from youth sports to high school and to the collegiate and professional levels," said WSF CEO Deborah Antoine. "A coach is often one of the most important adults in a young person's life, outside of their family, and the lack of female coaches and mentors has far-reaching consequences for the development of girls. Our Foundation felt it imperative to address this head-on, and who better to honor than the extraordinary Tara VanDerveer."

WSF designed the Fund to honor VanDerveer's legacy by providing schools with the opportunity to create fellowships for aspiring female collegiate coaches, giving them the support needed to jumpstart their careers. The fellowships will emphasize hands-on training and mentorship with established collegiate coaches as well as professional development and networking in order to identify paths to advancement. 

"I'm thrilled for the Women's Sports Foundation's launch of this inaugural class of female coaching fellows," VanDerveer said. "I've seen a lot of positives over my career in advancing women in sport, but the continued decline of female coaches is concerning. This program is a powerful way we can help reverse this trend. Providing avenues for women to pursue coaching is something that is very important to me and I am deeply honored that the WSF chose to set up this fellowship program in my name. I am excited to see the impact it will have on empowering tomorrow's leaders."

For more information on the VanDerveer Fund and list of grant recipients, please visit: https://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/media-center/

The Women's Sports Foundation is a powerful voice, catalyst and convener dedicated to ensuring all girls and women have equal access to sports and physical activity and the tremendous life-long benefits they provide. Founded by Billie Jean King in 1974, we seek to strengthen and expand opportunities for all girls and women to participate in all sports at all levels through research, advocacy, community impact and a wide variety of collaborative partnerships. The Women's Sports Foundation has relationships with more than 1,000 of the world's elite female athletes and has positively shaped the lives of more than 3 million youth, high school and collegiate student-athletes.