McMaster University football team establishes women’s coaching apprenticeship program

For the first time in program history, the McMaster Marauders football team has established two apprenticeship coaching positions targeted specifically for women to encourage and increase diversity among the sport’s coaching ranks.

The program is designed to identify and support two women, gender non-binary, or two spirit individuals, who have completed at least one year of university or college education, who demonstrate the desire for coaching football.

“We hope this program is a catalyst for coaching ranks to be heavily populated with women going forward,” head coach Stefan Ptaszek said in a statement.

“I’m extremely excited that this apprenticeship program will help smart, talented, and intelligent coaches provide an opportunity to be role models for our student-athletes, and I can’t wait to be part of the execution.”

The apprenticeship program is based upon matching two successful candidates with two mentor coaches from the McMaster football coaching staff and is the pilot project of offensive coordinator and athletics and recreation equity, inclusion, and anti-racism lead, Corey Grant.

“The apprenticeship is an opportunity to create a pipeline for women to get into coaching football, and football specifically,” Grant said in a statement. “We have the platform and ability to change the prevalence of football just being a men’s sport. Football is not only for men, and we don’t just want women, we need women in our coaching ranks.”

Avoiding rigidity, the program is uniquely structured to meet the needs of the successful candidates, enabling them to have an experience that will benefit both the apprentice, the mentor and the football program.

“Coach Grant brought this incredible idea to me that was without a doubt worth supporting and developing” athlete services coordinator Claire Arsenault said in a statement. “As we have seen in the NFL and other various professional sport organizations recently, the inclusion of women only strengthens and grows a team.”

The pair of Grant and Arsenault connected earlier this year and have worked over the past few months to bring together an inclusive and effective program, working closely with the Ontario Women’s Football Association, as well as the equity and inclusion office at McMaster.

“To offer this apprenticeship program and open the door for two women to gain an outstanding coaching experience with one of Canada’s top-rated university football programs is a great step towards breaking down gender norms, not just in sports, but in society as well.”

The program will run for the period between September 1 and December 4, 2021.

Preference will be given to women, gender non-binary, or two spirit women who are enrolled in their second year of studies, and/or have graduated within the past two years, with the expectation of committing 15-20 hours per week, coaching in team practices and league games.

Successful applicants will receive an honorarium for their participation in the program, and the apprenticeship program is contingent on the McMaster football program participating in a 2021 OUA football season this fall.

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