The first touchdown of the Georgetown women’s football team’s season opener showed a couple of lopsided numbers. Running back Caroline Genovese, for example, gained 60 yards and quarterback Mary Zavala connected with Lynny Sizemore for the two points. No team is much further from embracing gender equity in coaching — or women’s sports in general — than Georgetown University.
“It’s been a long road, but we’re excited to get going,” Zavala said, seated on the sideline in her Hornets uniform with the university’s varsity team this past Saturday afternoon. She looked right out at the stands of McDonough Stadium and said, “You can tell it has been five to six years since a female head coach has been here.”
That is starting to change. Emma Hayes is an accomplished and accomplished but unknown coach to date. Hayes is currently the first woman to lead a varsity men’s college football team in New York City, and she is eager to run a varsity women’s football team as well, one with a championship . . . and one without its male coach, Stephen Herold. Hayes, 35, was hired last year as a coach and associate athletic director after spending five years as an assistant coach at Syracuse University, where the school created a senior director of athletics position in 2007 for a woman.
Solisawure, an All-American at Colgate and former quarterback for the women’s Olympic gold medal soccer team in Sydney, was a candidate for several university jobs, but her resume fell into Hayes’ lap by accident. Through Hayes, Stottlemyre-Selby called Herold, who had been at the school since 1988, and asked him if he might be interested in leaving the sidelines.
“I said, well, I’m getting ready to retire in a couple of years, and it is a great opportunity for a woman to be hired,” Herold said.
Hayes told her recruit about the athletic director position and Sizemore — whom Hayes has known for years, and who applied for the job when it was open in 2009 — relayed that she was thinking about moving to DC as well. The rest is football history. Now she’s a second-time head coach, replacing Herold, for an other Division I women’s team.
The $700,000 salary Hayes will earn this year is more than double the pay of Herold, but as with so many others in the coaching profession, pay doesn’t always matter. According to the website BigSportNation.com, the average income for the men’s college football team at a school which currently has a woman as head coach is $480,000. The website calculated the average amount that University of Washington, where Coen Heckert serves as men’s head coach and Shelley Smith the women’s head coach, earns in this way: $454,902.
Hayes’ student-athletes could be positioned to make money on the field, however. Stottlemyre-Selby said that the women’s team would pursue revenue-generating opportunities, such as food concessions or merchandise, as they try to turn a profit. To that end, Hayes says she is actively seeking new corporate sponsors.
Those opportunities, Hayes said, ultimately revolve around wanting more female role models, and more women for students to look up to. “There is no greater way to illustrate that than on a football field,” she said.
Indeed, schools with more female coaches and administrators are more likely to pursue a goal that Stottlemyre-Selby felt at Georgetown University, and that other women around the country are beginning to consider. “I believe strongly that having women leading and mentoring men is the best way to retain a strong athletic culture,” Stottlemyre-Selby said. “Our goal as an institution is to build the men’s program as a learning program. Also, our goal is to grow a woman’s football team to a championship level.”