US Squash hosted a first-of-its-kind women’s level 1 coaching certification course, June 23-25, certifying ten new coaches at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center.
Led by Linda Elriani, US Squash’s Senior Director of Professional Development and Coaching, the courses were designed for women only in an effort to bring more women into teaching professional roles. Increasing the number of positive female coaching role models is an important piece of expanding the number of women and girls in the sport as US Squash drives towards gender parity in participation.
“It is vital to have more female squash coaches, as statistics show that retention in sports is higher for girls when they have female coaches and leaders in their lives,” Elriani said. “Girls can feel that female coaches have a better understanding of their unique challenges and needs, and can relate to the physical, emotional, and social changes that occur during adolescence and understand the impact they can have on girls’ participation in sports. Female coaches are also often more attuned to issues such as body image, self-confidence, and social expectations, and can create a supportive and inclusive environment where girls feel comfortable expressing themselves and exploring their full potential.”
More Start Squash courses and level 1 coaching certification courses are slated to be held over the course of the 2023-2024 season. US Squash has developed a new coach education module–‘Coaching Women & Girls’–as a part of its ongoing Women & Girls Initiative focused on engagement and retention.
“Our first level 1 coaching certification course was a step in the right direction towards getting groups of females together to grow, learn, relate, empathize, and share experiences,” Elriani said. “These female-only courses create a strong sense of connection and trust which sets a wonderful stage to build confidence. Our new ‘Coaching Women & Girls’ education module will also help to educate ALL our pros in the way they approach coaching female athletes and the best tools to keep them engaged and become the best version of themselves. Our hope is to create more opportunities in the future for female mentorship and support.”
Ciara Richards, who recently just finished her college squash career at Drexel, is one of the newly certified coaches.
“It was such an amazing experience to be a part of the first ever women and girl’s level one coaching course last weekend,” Richards said. “It was a really welcoming and comforting environment, and it was incredible to be surrounded by like-minded women who want to make a difference in the squash world. I am so happy to see US Squash on a mission to increase the number of women’s coaches as this will have endless positive impacts on our sport, not just for women and girls, but for everyone. Diversity and inclusion are integral parts of sport, and we will only reap the benefits when we continue to push for this in squash.”