Take five, Helen Reddy.
The Australian songstress empowered an entire generation of women in 1972 with her song “I Am Woman” and the accompanying lyric, “hear me roar.”
It became the anthem for women’s rights.
But, now, 47 years later, another entity is carrying that torch.
None other than the basketball coaching profession. In collegiate and professional basketball alike, the gender barriers for coaches are falling faster than, perhaps, in any other sport.
Just look around.
Former West Virginia University head coach John Beilein recently hired Cal-Berkeley head women’s coach Lindsay Gottlieb as an assistant on his new staff with the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers.
Meanwhile in Morgantown, veteran Mike Carey coaches the WVU women’s basketball program after 13 years as the Salem College men’s basketball coach.
Then, in Huntington, Tony Kemper is the Marshall University women’s basketball head coach. Yet, he also was an assistant for the Central Arkansas men’s team.
See how the barriers are toppling in basketball?
“I think there are a lot of male coaches on the women’s side,” said Carey, “and, now, the female coaches are starting to get on the men’s side. I think a coach is a coach. I mean, if I can coach on the men’s side, why can’t I coach on the women’s side? And vice-versa.
“Whether you are coaching junior high, high school, college, men, women — either you can coach or you can’t coach. I think it really doesn’t matter.”
The NBA is a slightly different matter, however.
“I think you have to have the right mentality to coach pro ball,” continued Carey. “I think you’ve got to be careful. You’ve just got to have the right mentality as a male coach or a female coach, coaching on the pro side. That’s a whole different situation.”
Money, money, money.
“Let’s be honest, the players are making a lot more money than the coach makes,” said Carey with a chuckle. “They’re kind of in charge, so you’ve got to have the right mentality to do that. I don’t think it matters whether it’s a female or male. It’s just the right mind-set and being able to coach.”
As for Kemper, these falling barriers make him proud to be a basketball coach.
“I think the key that’s maybe starting to tear down some of those barriers at the NBA level,” said Kemper, “is it’s really about relating to players. It’s easy to see from the outside that Gottlieb would be really good at relating to players.
“I think that’s a huge key for Coach Beilein. He has to have assistants that can reach those guys, get them working and keep them working. I think she has always been very good about the team concept. I’m sure that’s a lot of it.”
Who knows? A player might relate better to a female coach rather than a male in the NBA.
“Gottlieb’s experiences of coaching,” continued Kemper, “are going to be different than just hiring another guy who has been in the NBA for a long time and knows how that game works. You’re going to have someone in the room who says, ‘Why don’t we do it this way? Has anybody ever thought of doing it this way?’
“It’s just a different perspective. I think it’s awesome for the women in our program and the ones coming up because I think those barriers are going down.”
Hear the roar, Helen?