SportsEvents Magazine

SEP 2018

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Page 10 of 51 September 2018 11 One-on-One features an interview with an influential member of the sports community concerning a specific topic. This month, Boston College Women's Soccer Head Coach Alison Foley discusses the book she co-authored with friend and neighbor Mia Wenjen. When Alison Foley and Mia Wenjen learned that girls drop out of sports at six times the rate of boys, the women were shocked and wondered how they could change those numbers. "When you read a statistic that says out of 100 girls who play sports in elementary school that only two will play in college and about 70 percent of all kids give up organized sports by the time they reach middle school, that's disheartening," Foley said. "It was alarming to learn that girls quit sports at six times the rate of boys." As a young girl, Foley played youth and club soccer, and continued play- ing through school to become an All- American before becoming the head women's soccer coach at Boston College. In her 21 years as a coach, Foley led her team to the NCAA Final Four and Final Eight during 13 consecutive play- offs. She's simultaneously directed 14 seasons with the Lady Eagles Soccer School, a girls-only soccer program at Boston College, and coached many national-team-level players. For Foley, the positive impact sports played in her life and the life of those she coached was too important to ignore. Something had to be done to keep girls in sports. "How to Coach Girls" is the book Wenjen and Foley created to provide insight into the pitfalls and positive experiences of coaching girls. Designed as a comprehen- sive guide for parents and coaches, the book includes tips and perspectives on coaching girls in all sports disciplines with advice from former Olympians and college coaches. Why do girls drop out of sports six times the rate of boys? It may be as simple as the basic difference between boys and girls. The 22-chapter book covers topics such as developing team chemistry, social awareness, playing time, cliques, body image, codes of conduct and losing. Through discussions and personal experiences, the authors discovered that the differences in coaching girls and boys are significant. But coaches and parents can learn to keep girls interested in playing sports for life by understanding the differ- ences and creating the right environment. "My sport, the sport I coach, is soccer but I wanted to reach out to all sports – volleyball, crew, running, basketball – and talk to respected coaches because the more information I can share, the better our chances of keeping girls involved in sports," Foley said. She added that coaches and parents who achieve the most positive results with girls are those who consider the whole person and the social-emotional connection between the athlete and coach. "Coaches can have such a positive impact on an athlete," Foley said. "It is an awesome responsibility to develop a young person, not only as an athlete but also as a person who will be a contribut- ing member of society. It starts with recognizing the differ- ences and working with the whole person, not just the player." Through their dis- cussions with other parents and coaches, the women realized the basic differences in girls and boys: Girls tend to be better listeners. Boys are more confident. Boys can play for a coach without a personal connection to them. Girls tend to doubt their abilities. "The common denominator is the impact of the environment," Foley said. "Girls want to know that you care about them holistically. The leading scorer may be recognized for the improvement, and the little details about how you recognize their contributions and improvements keeps girls motivated." Foley said social cues are also more important to girls than boys when it comes to sports and she recalled advice given her by University of North Carolina coach Anson Dorrance, who advised that she give girls 10 minutes of time during warm-ups to chat with teammates rather than jumping immediately into a focused practice. "Kids come to the practice field after ► One- on- One 'How to Coach Girls' Provides Insight for Creating Successful Teams BY SHERRI MIDDLETON t ONE- on- ONE

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