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September 29, 2023

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Female coaches bring shared experiences, unique bonds

One way Bowling Green scores high in the MAC is one many may not suspect, with the coaches.

At BG, every women’s sport except track and field is coached by a woman; the highest percent of any MAC institution.

“I think it reflects a commitment to diversity at the end of the day,” said Lesley Irvine, senior associate athletic director for Administration and Academics at BG.

BG didn’t purposefully hire several female coaches.

“It’s about hiring the best candidate,” Irvine said.

Though it has more female coaches than any other MAC school, when it comes down to who the coaches are and how the players see them at BG, gender doesn’t matter.

Women’s soccer head coach Lindsay Basalyga’s players describe her as “very upfront,” but redshirt junior Kylie Briem said she “wouldn’t see it as a gender difference at all.”

“It’s A, her personality and B, her coaching style,” Briem said. “She isn’t afraid to say anything and to share anything with you.”

Basalyga enjoys being one of eight female coaches.

“I love that community, to be able to share ideas and bounce ideas off other female coaches,” she said. “I like that BG is committed to women coaches.”

She’s also the only female women’s soccer coach in the MAC, and she loves it.

Her coaching style is upfront, and her players like that. They like to be pushed, Briem said.

Women’s basketball head coach Jennifer Roos has two mentors when it comes to her coaching style— both of who were coaches she played under in the past.

“One was a coach who motivated us by speaking softly … we played hard so we didn’t let him down,” she said. “Then there was someone who yelled a lot more and swore a lot more.”

At the end of the day, both styles were effective, she said.

“The kids played hard and respected the coach,” she said.

Roos uses a blend of both styles, one freshman Abby Siefker said makes her just as hard on athletes as men are, but with understanding of the emotion that goes with the game.

“I feel like it’s a lot easier to talk to her,” Siefker said.

But not necessarily because she’s a woman; it’s because of Roos’ personality.

“She’s really open, she really cares about her players,” Siefker said.

Both Basalyga and Roos’ players said they had a sense of humor that helped put the athletes at ease with their coaches.

Briem remembers one time after a really hard practice when Basalyga’s sense of humor showed.

“We weren’t in the best mood, it was not a good practice,” she said.

Basalyga stepped back, tripped on a soccer ball and fell “straight onto her butt,” Briem said.

The players weren’t sure whether to laugh or not, but then Basalyga started laughing at herself and they all were “in tears on the floor” they were laughing so hard, Briem said.

“When it’s hard, it’s hard, but she brings … comfort even through hard times,” she said.

Raised by a coach, Basalyga has been around coaching and athletics her whole life.

As far as her personal coaching style being related to her gender, Basalyga said she doesn’t know, but what she does know is she has a little more insight into coaching than the average female coach.

“I’ve seen and heard both sides,” she said about the difference between male and female coaches.

Her father is a coach and they talk about their jobs together, but Basalyga said he doesn’t have the same issues with his male players as she may have with her female players.

“The relationship to issues female athletes may have is going to look different,” she said.

Ashley Garr, a junior women’s soccer player, said she found it easy to form a personal bond with Basalyga.

“She was once in our spot,” Garr said.

The shared experiences can make female coaches good role models for athletes.

“It’s also important for a female student athlete to have role models,” Irvine said. “Female coaches can provide that … women are some of the best coaches.”

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