In our previous episode in our Womxn in Athletics series, we heard from Dr. Nicole LaVoi, Director of the University of Minnesota’s Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport about the challenges female coaches face. She shared the mind-boggling statistic that, while the passage of Title IX in 1972 led to an explosion in opportunities for female athletes, the percentage of women coaching women’s teams went from 90% back then to only around 42% today, and that statistic has remained stagnant for the past decade. If you haven’t listened to that episode yet, we highly recommend it as a warm-up to this next installment featuring renowned hockey coach Shannon Miller.
Miller’s long list of accomplishments include being the first female head coach for Team Canada and Canada’s first-ever female Olympic Head Coach; her team took silver in the 1998 Winter Olympic Games. She served as head coach for the University of Minnesota, Duluth’s women’s hockey team for 15 years, winning five NCAA championships. After the 2014-15 season, UMD chose not to renew Miller’s contract, citing budget concerns. Miller, along with former UMD softball coach Jen Banford and former women’s basketball coach Annette Wiles, filed a federal lawsuit against the university, alleging discrimination and Title IX violations. In March of 2018 Miller won that case and was awarded $3.74 million in damages. We spoke with her shortly after that verdict for this episode; in our next installment, we follow up a year later, getting an update on her legal battle, which is far from over.
In this first conversation, Miller talks about the challenges she’s faced being a trailblazing female coach who has always been openly gay, and what motivates her to keep fighting for progress for women in athletics.