Williams College Receives Tara VanDerveer Fund Grant from Women's Sports Foundation

Williams College Receives Tara VanDerveer Fund Grant from Women's Sports Foundation

WILLIAMSTOWN, MASS. (9/11/19) – Williams 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. Williams 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.

“Williams College and our athletics department are proud to be a part of the inaugural class of the Women’s Sports Foundation VanDerveer Fund recipients,” said Lisa Melendy, Director of Athletics at Williams. “We are committed to supporting women in coaching, as coaches are a critical layer of support for athletes on the field and in the lives of students-athletes in other ways.  Having more women in coaching helps inspire female athletes to consider coaching and the fellowship grant will allow us to more fully support a young female coach.  We are excited for her to impact our department and athletes.”

Mackenzie Keyes

Softball coach Kris Herman has announced that the grant will be used to enhance the role, job, and quality of life of assistant softball coach Mackenzie Keyes. “Coach Keyes has had a great impact on Williams and our softball program and promises to be an influential female role-model in athletics for years to come. Her commitment to the profession, to learning and sharing her knowledge and to the athletes she is already mentoring is impressive,” says Herman.  “I’m thrilled for Mackenzie that she will have enhanced opportunities through the fellowship including incredible professional development programs.  Thank you to the Women’s Sports Foundation and Tara VanDerveer for their foresight in establishing this program.  We are very fortunate and excited to be a part of this inaugural class.

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 the 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/

About The Women's Sports Foundation
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. To learn more about the Women’s Sports Foundation, please visit www.WomensSportsFoundation.org.