Bronx, N.Y. – (September 14, 2022) – Fordham Cross Country/Track & Field 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 women coaches on the rise, assisting with living expenses, professional development and mentorship. Fordham is one of 10 universities and colleges to receive the grants, which are designated for women coaching fellows in a wide variety of women’s sports.
“We are proud to be a member of this year’s class of the Women’s Sports Foundation VanDerveer Fund recipients,” said Brian Horowitz, Fordham cross country/track & field head coach. “We recognize the critical importance of closing the gender gap in the coaching ranks and seeing more women in these influential roles helps inspire our female student athletes. Our WSF VanDerveer Fellow, Nickeela Austin, is already a vital piece to our Fordham cross country/track & field program and this grant will allow her to continue to grow both as a coach and as a professional.”
Austin is in her second season as a member of the Fordham cross country/track & field coaching staff. Her specialties, the sprints and horizontal jumps, came to the forefront in her first season on staff, working with sprinters Kyla Hill and Kathryn Kelly, who both earned All-Atlantic 10 honors, as well as the 4×100 relay, which earned a bronze medal at the 2022 Atlantic 10 Outdoor Championships and set a new school record. Hill set individual records in the 100- and 200-meter dashes during the outdoor season with Hill and Kelly both setting the school record in the 60-meter dash for indoor track. Kelly also set the indoor long jump school record and was the Atlantic 10 outdoor long jump champion.
In the 50 years since Title IX’s passage, the percentage of women in collegiate coaching roles has declined. In the 1970-71 academic year, 90% of all head coaches for women’s college teams were women. In 2021, women held only 41% of these positions in women’s NCAA sports. In the same year only 28% of all NCAA assistant coaches were women. Furthermore, BIPOC women are particularly under-represented in the coaching ranks, making up just 7% of head coaches of women’s sports, and only 7% of all assistant coaches for men’s and women’s teams.
The data clearly shows there is a lack of women in coaching positions at all levels of sport. WSF began awarding grants from the VanDerveer Fund in 2019 to change that at a collegiate level. Aspiring women coaches are able to jumpstart their careers and contribute to growing representation of women in the coaching space through the opportunities they receive from the Tara VanDerveer Fund. Hired by educational institutions that receive the grant, WSF VanDerveer Fellows receive mentorship from established collegiate coaches, hands-on-training and professional development resources.
Since its inception, the WSF Fund has provided a total of $800,000 to 33 colleges and universities throughout the country, supporting 35 coaching fellows across 11 different sports.
“Across all sports, women are underrepresented in positions of power and influence at senior leadership levels, including coaching,” said Danette Leighton, CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation. “WSF knows that glass ceilings are made to be broken. That’s why we’re proud to continue honoring Tara VanDerveer’s history-making legacy with this important Fund to encourage and support women whose dream is to lead the next generation of athletes.”
To learn more about the VanDerveer Fund and meet the 2022 grant recipients, please visit:
About The Women’s Sports Foundation
The Women’s Sports Foundation exists to enable girls and women to reach their potential in sport and life. We are an ally, an advocate and a catalyst. Founded by Billie Jean King in 1974, we strengthen and expand participation and leadership opportunities through research, advocacy, community programming and a wide variety of collaborative partnerships. From its inception to Title IX’s 50th anniversary in 2022, WSF has invested over $100 million in these impact efforts, helping to shape the lives of millions of youth, high school and collegiate student-athletes, elite athletes and coaches. We’re building a future where every girl and woman can #KeepPlaying and unlock the lifelong benefits of sport participation. All girls. All women. All sports.® To learn more about the Women’s Sports Foundation, please visit www.WomensSportsFoundation.org.