More Black Women take leadership roles in sports

By Cam Finn

On Feb. 1 was the 37th Annual Girls and Women in Sports Day. More women, and particularly Black women are assuming leadership and non-traditional roles in sports typically held by men.

Autumn Lockwood will make history this month as the first Black woman to coach in a Super Bowl as an assistant coach to the Philadelphia Eagles, who will face the Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Ariz. While Jennifer King completed her second season in the NFL as the assistant running backs coach for the Washington Commanders. And for players, 18-year-old Olivia Pichardo is the first female baseball player in the NCAA Division 1 on Brown University’s team.

Women are also assuming leadership roles.

Pat Kendrick was named the interim executive director of university athletics, recreation and intramural sports at Xavier University of Louisiana, making her the first Black woman in Xavier Athletics history to be given the top title. Kendrick has been highly regarded by her peers and student athletes having served as the head of women’s volleyball at Xavier. Both athletes and fellow coaches applaud her excellence and track record in collegiate sports.

“I think it’s a good sign that women are putting themselves out there to get the opportunity and they’re proving they are good enough to do the job,” Kendrick said. “People are starting to look not necessarily based on gender roles, they are looking at who can do the job the best,” she added.

Xavier’s administration said they knew she was a perfect fit for the role that was left vacant in December after former Xavier executive athletic director Nathan Cochran took on another position elsewhere.

“Xavier University and all of our volleyball players have been the beneficiaries of Coach Kendrick’s incomparable talent, uncommon leadership and amazing grace,” said Xavier vice president Curtis Wright. “I’m thrilled that she has agreed to serve in the role of Interim Executive Director of Athletics, allowing the rest of the department to learn from her example.”

Last year, Dillard University’s former athletic director Kiki Baker Barnes became the first Black female commissioner of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference. She is one just four Black women in the country in such roles. When she served as athletic director she was only Black woman in the state of Louisiana in that position at that time. Kendrick’s players said that seeing a Black woman lead college athletics is inspiring. She has been a motivating force on the court and will be in her new role.

“Coach PK [Pat Kendrick] taught me to have a single goal every practice because as someone who has a lot of goals my mind can get clouded and I could fail at them all,” said Xavier freshman volleyball player, Juliana Cruz.

“She taught me that if I work hard to perfect one thing, I will have a better chance at success,” Cruz said.

Related posts