Jason Moorman knew little to nothing about women’s wrestling when King University started a women’s wrestling program in 2009 and he was appointed the program’s head coach. Moorman began researching the history of women’s wrestling, and read up on men’s coaches in other sports who transitioned from coaching men to coaching women.
“Anson Dorrance from North Carolina had done that pretty well over there with the women’s soccer program, getting people like Mia Hamm,” said Moorman in a recent interview. “He actually has a book and I started reading it. He started talking about some of the differences between recruiting a male athlete and female athlete.”
Moorman cited an example Dorrance used in his book.
“Sometimes in a men’s practice you can sit here and say, ‘Hey guys, look at Pete. He’s put in all the work. He worked his tail off today. You guys need to look at how he’s working. That’s what I want you guys to be like. Guys will say, ‘Good job, Pete.’ Pete’s like, ‘Yeah, that’s right.’ And it’s all good.
“But sometimes when you’re coaching women it’s a little bit different. You might say, ‘How ever Emily is working that’s how I want all of you guys to work. You need to look at how she is working and that’s what we’re looking for. Well, some of those girls might be a little upset at Emily, and then Emily is mad at you for calling her out. It’s just a little bit different dynamic for a female.”
Moorman now coaches both the women’s and men’s teams at King, and the approach is the same.
“We treat the women the same as we do the men in the room,” said Moorman, who led the King women to their third straight WCWA national title this year. “There is still more development that happens outside of the room. We treat the women like ladies outside the room.”
Terry Steiner, a three-time All-American and NCAA champion at Iowa, never envisioned that he would one day be leading Team USA’s women’s freestyle program. During and after his competitive wrestling career he transitioned to an assistant coaching role at the Division I level, first at Oregon State and then Wisconsin.
But Steiner was getting ancy. He wanted his own program. He called USA Wrestling for a letter of recommendation for a Division I coaching position. USA’s Wrestling executive director Rich Bender presented him with an opportunity to become the women’s national team coach.
“I said, ‘Rich, you’ve got the wrong guy.’ He said, ‘Will you listen to me?’ Reluctantly, I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll listen.’ But I never really gave it a lot of thought.”
Steiner talked to those close to him about the position and opportunity. He started asking himself some questions like ‘Why do I coach?’ ‘Who do I want to stay involved in the sport of wrestling?’ ‘What is it about wrestling that keeps me involved?’
“I just believe in the sport of wrestling,” said Steiner. “I believe in the character development. I believe in the human development through the sport. So the next question to myself was, ‘If that’s really why I’m involved in the sport of wrestling, as an educator to teach people through the sport, then why does it make a difference if it’s a man or woman in front of me?”
Steiner sought the opinion of those close to him and eventually took the job in 2002. He has not looked back since.
Steiner believes there are many differences that come with coaching women and coaching men in wrestling. These differences can be seen in a variety of areas such as coachability, communication, conflict and competitiveness.
See charts below.
Why do they participate?
Why do they quit?
How do they handle criticism?
What are they like to coach?
For more charts on differences in coaching women and men, visit Terry Steiner’s presentation.
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