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Cal State San Bernardino received an inaugural Tara VanDerveer Fund for the Advancement of Women in Coaching grant from the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF), which was created to support collegiate female coaches on the rise, assisting with living expenses, professional development and mentorship.
CSUSB is one of 10 universities and colleges to receive the grant, designated for a female coaching fellow in women’s sports as diverse as field hockey, wrestling, basketball, volleyball, softball, and strength and conditioning.
Kelcie Tolan, CSUSB alumna who played volleyball for the Coyotes from 2008-2011, has been selected as the university’s fellow.
“It is an absolute honor to be the inaugural Tara VanDerveer grant recipient,” said Tolan, who started her role as CSUSB’s assistant volleyball coach this past summer. “Not only does it give me the opportunity to work at CSUSB as a proud alumna, but also gives me the opportunity to network with previous and current National Team Olympians, which is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! This is just another step in my professional career to prove myself as a role model, leader and coach.”
“We are very lucky to have Kelcie as part of our volleyball program,” said Kim Cherniss, CSUSB’s head volleyball coach. “Her passion and dedication to the sport makes her the perfect Tara VanDerveer fellow.”
Tolan, who recently visited New York City for the WSF’s Athlete Leadership Connection event where she received the Tara VanDerveer grant, says she looks forward to working with Cherniss and Danny Scott, associate head coach.
“They have been competing at the highest level even before I played for them from 2008-2011 where I was a four-time Conference, Regional and two-time National Champion finalist with losing only one home game in four years,” Tolan said. “I am very fortunate to continue to be a part of a National Championship caliber team.”
Prior to her appointment at CSUSB, Tolan spent 2018 as an assistant coach at San Bernardino Valley College. She has also coached eight years with Rancho Valley Volleyball Clubs, where she is currently the director of programs. Tolan coached overseas with Copenhagen International School, and Lyngby Volley and KSV Student Volley in Denmark, winning a gold medal with Lyngby.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree from CSUSB in kinesiology, Tolan spent two seasons playing professionally in Denmark. Tolan also received two master’s degrees, one in coaching and athletic administration and one in exercise science, from Concordia University Irvine.
The Women’s Sports Foundation, inspired by Tara VanDerveer, the legendary Stanford University women’s basketball coach, created the Tara VanDerveer Fund to directly address the alarming decline of women in coaching.
In the 1970-71 academic year, 90 percent of all head coaches for women’s college teams were women. By 2017, 45 years after the passage of Title IX, that number had dropped to 40 percent among NCAA sports. While women’s representation as head and assistant coaches of women’s sports can vary by sport, this underrepresentation is systemic and cannot be attributed to just one sport or division. Furthermore, women of color are particularly underrepresented in the coaching ranks, making up just 5.6 percent of head coaches of women’s sports, and only 3.5 percent of all head coaches, men’s and women’s teams (as reported by NCAA in 2017).
“The lack of female coaches is so alarmingly evident across all levels of education – from youth sports to high school and to the collegiate and professional levels,” said WSF CEO Deborah Antoine. “A coach is often one of the most important adults in a young person’s life, outside of their family, and the lack of female coaches and mentors has far-reaching consequences for the development of girls. Our Foundation felt it imperative to address this head-on, and who better to honor than the extraordinary Tara VanDerveer.”
WSF designed the fund to honor VanDerveer’s legacy by providing schools with the opportunity to create fellowships for aspiring female collegiate coaches, giving them the support needed to jumpstart their careers. The fellowships will emphasize hands-on training and mentorship with established collegiate coaches as well as professional development and networking in order to identify paths to advancement.
“I’m thrilled for the Women’s Sports Foundation’s launch of this inaugural class of female coaching fellows,” VanDerveer said. “I’ve seen a lot of positives over my career in advancing women in sport, but the continued decline of female coaches is concerning. This program is a powerful way we can help reverse this trend. Providing avenues for women to pursue coaching is something that is very important to me and I am deeply honored that the WSF chose to set up this fellowship program in my name. I am excited to see the impact it will have on empowering tomorrow’s leaders.”
“I would like to extend my sincere gratitude towards Tara VanDerveer and Women’s Sports Foundation for providing a place to showcase all of the phenomenal women in sports out there,” Tolan said. “And lastly for providing me the opportunity to expand my network and continue to strive to become a successful powerhouse in women in sports for the future!”
CSUSB has been proactive in providing opportunities for female coaches, and currently has five women head coaches out of the university’s six women’s sports programs. There has also been a steady increase in the number of women assistant coaches.
Visit the Women’s Sports Foundation website for more information on the VanDerveer Fund and list of grant recipients.
About the Women’s Sports Foundation
The Women’s Sports Foundation is a powerful voice, catalyst and convener dedicated to ensuring all girls and women have equal access to sports and physical activity and the tremendous life-long benefits they provide. Founded by Billie Jean King in 1974, we seek to strengthen and expand opportunities for all girls and women to participate in all sports at all levels through research, advocacy, community impact and a wide variety of collaborative partnerships. The Women’s Sports Foundation has relationships with more than 1,000 of the world’s elite female athletes and has positively shaped the lives of more than 3 million youth, high school and collegiate student-athletes. To learn more about the Women’s Sports Foundation, please visit www.WomensSportsFoundation.org, or follow us at @WomensSportsFdn on Twitter, @womenssportsfoundation on Instagram and at www.facebook.com/WomensSportsFoundation.
Kelcie Tolan at the WSF’s Athlete Leadership Connection event in New York City, where she received the Tara VanDerveer grant.