Here's a story about a young woman who is a real trailblazer. There are 15,675 public and private high school football coaches in America today, but Natalie Randolph, 30, is the only woman to hold that position (11: Risk Addiction).
Back in 1985, Wanda Oates was named head football coach at Washington D.C.'s Ballou High School, but she only lasted one day because opposing coaches refused to play against her. She filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against the city's Board of Education, but it was dismissed. When Oates, who is 67, heard of Randolph's appointment she said "Football is the macho of all macho sports, and once we break that glass ceiling, there is no limit to what we can accomplish."
Randolph's appointment is not only unique (8: Turning No Into Yes)because of her gender, but because she won the job over 15 other highly qualified applicants. They included two former NFL players, as well as a former Army Brigadier General, but none of the men who wanted job of head coach at Calvin Coolidge Senior High School in Washington D.C. exhibited the same concern for her students' academic well-being. "I hope that they know that I really don't care about winning football games, but I do care about school....Athletes are just not made to do academics enough, and that's nationwide. But I'm going to change that."
The 5'5", 130 lb. coach was a track star at prestigious Sidwell Friends School and at the University of Virginia (2: An Early Sense of Direction), and she played six seasons as a wide receiver with the D.C. Divas, a professional team in the Independent Women's Football League. Today, the science teacher wears short dreadlocks and a whistle around her neck even in the classroom.
After school, Randolph makes her players attend study hall for an hour (for SAT prep, tutoring, or homework), and each player must bring her a weekly progress report from his teachers. Failure to follow her directions results in extra running after football practice or exclusion from practices or games (5: Life Is Not a Popularity Contest).
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