Advocacy for girls and/or women’s basketball is extremely difficult because unfortunately girls basketball is lowest on the totem poll when it comes to women’s sports. As an advocate and coach I’ve built my resume for the last 12 years. As a teenager it was fun to become a counselor/coach for camps, and it was a cool way to feel independent by making my own money. I took a year off of basketball my sophomore year in college, due to unfortunate circumstances out of my control, and decided to coach my little brother’s eight and under county basketball team in order to stay involved in the sport. I loved it and found a true passion in it! The following school year I became the JV head coach at my alma mater. I assistant coached the varsity team from 2012-2018. Of those 6 years, my team won 3 state championships, and developed multiple division 1 players. My final season I even added one more head coaching job to my resume by coaching at one of the nearby middle schools. I made the decision last year to grow my own brand and became a platform to the girls underestimated in this male dominated sport. In that time, I also moved to Tampa, Florida where I saw a huge opportunity to grow my business because of the clear lack of interest in the development of girls basketball. However, between my business partner and I, we have been to dozens of gyms, schools etc., and can you believe my resume doesn’t mean ANYTHING to anyone! They don’t even ask for it. A basketball program dedicated to girls is not “NEEDED” because other sports have a higher participation rate!
My first issue is, how can we strike interest in women’s basketball if opportunity for skill development is non-existent? Unfortunately, athletic directors, coaches, principals, gym coordinators, etc. are only interested in creating athletic opportunities solely based on what will make the most money instead of focusing on the athletic development amongst ALL of the youth. They are put in these positions to improve the athletic development of youth in their community, but are constantly “dropping the ball”. If we only cater to these students who play volleyball, soccer, softball, etc., we are doing a disservice to those children who have limited access to their sport of choice.
Advocates are discouraged with long laundry lists of e-mails with no response or gym coordinators who claim to already have ONE girls program using gym space. Why is it that girls are not given multiple opportunities? Girls coaches/trainers feel threatened by anyone who offers any service to their players. How is it that “it takes a village to raise a child” but only one person can assist in developing a player to reach their full potential? Boys may have 10 different coaches, such as high school coach, AAU coach, shooting coach, ball-handling coach, weight lifting coach, and the list goes on. But for some reason the culture of women’s basketball is to limit them. As a coach and advocate for girls basketball, my goal is to create as much opportunity as possible for girls and women in basketball. I want to assist them in perfecting their craft.
I think all women can relate to feeling limited in some capacity. We have to draw the line somewhere. Join the #HerBasketballMovement !
- Terah Kai Mustaf/Coach Tee
Our girls need more female representation in basketball! As it is women are not taken as seriously in sports as their male counterparts due to the difference in our physical make up. Basketball is a male dominated sport. WNBA players don’t make even half of what NBA players make and women’s basketball doesn’t have nearly as many fans. Not to mention, the grassroots level is seeing less participation which is causing the caliber of play to deteriorate. That again affects the sport negatively by decreasing fans.
I believe the first step in getting women in basketball to be taken seriously is increasing the amount of women in superior roles. At both the grassroots level up to the professional level there are more male coaches than there are female coaches. Out of the 12 WNBA teams only 5 of the coaches are women. Even the WNBA’s former commissioner, Lisa Borders has stepped down and now the deputy commissioner of the NBA, Mark Tatum is overseeing the WNBA on an interim basis. Girls need to see women in those positions. How can we expect girls at the grassroots level to want to begin playing basketball, when across the board there’s no one for them to identify with. People in general, like to see people that look like them in roles they’re interested in. For a lot of people, this is confirmation that it is attainable. Who is going to take other women and/or girls more seriously in basketball, than other women who also love the game.
I’ve been a high school girls basketball coach at my alma mater for the last six years and I played in high school 4 years before that. Within that time, I’ve seen a significant decline in participation. There were several games at the JV level that were cancelled because other schools did not have enough girls tryout. There were even games where we played a varsity team that hardly had 5 girls to make up a team. Imagine how demeaning and embarrassing it is to be a high school girl playing on an inexperienced team of five or six players, and you’re playing a more experienced team with double the amount of players, in front of your fellow classmates. Those girls aren’t going to want to continue to play. And this happens in the DC metropolitan area (DMV), which is known for developing top tier athletes, in both men and women’s basketball.
Just last Tuesday, January 22, 2019, the biggest game in girls basketball took place at Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, MD. Two teams from the DMV were ranked among the Top 5 teams in the country! Bishop McNamara’s girls basketball team who was ranked No. 1 in the country before the game, played St. John’s College High School’s girls basketball team who was ranked No. 4 in the country. What an accomplishment that not only were both teams nationally ranked, but two teams out of the DMV area were ranked among the Top 5 teams in the country. However, the game was hosted by Bishop McNamara at their school, where the venue was clearly not large enough to seat the fans. Fans who could not be seated in the gym, yet paid to see the game were sent to the school’s cafeteria where they live streamed the game. As a player and as a coach I cannot tell you how often I’ve seen this happen. And as a woman in basketball I cannot tell you how much of a slap in the face this is. When elite boys teams play big games, the games are moved to a local university or simply another high school with a larger arena, so that everyone can see the boys play center stage. What message are we sending to girls? No matter how hard they work, we do not put them on the same pedestal.
How many times have you been to a girls basketball game and the amount of fans in the stands doesn’t even fill half of one side of the court? I know in the past six years that I’ve been coaching at my high school, they don’t even let the bleachers down on both sides of the court for girls games anymore. However, for the boys games they do. Unfortunately, because of the significant deficit in fans between the boys and girls games this happens. Therefore, when these young ladies work hard on the court and in the classroom, rank in the Top 5 in the country, and then have the opportunity to play each other and represent for their entire area, it is a “historical event”. Instead of only seeing our young ladies as an opportunity for a school to make money, let’s give them some incentive. Let them know that they have done something big. Allow them a floor to showcase their talents in front of whoever wants to see them play; family, college coaches, other girls teams, etc. It was anticipated that the game would be over capacity because they set up another area for people to watch a livestream. I can’t imagine being a parent and getting turned away from the gym because there aren’t enough seats.
This kind of negligence has to stop in girls and women's basketball, and in order to bring awareness and make that happen, there must be more women in these executive roles. Only women understand the hardships, first hand, that girls endure in sports! There is no one better suited than women to go to bat for other women. We need women to represent for women in basketball the same way that women represent for cheerleading, dance, volleyball, etc. Women’s basketball is completely glamourous if you ask me! Women’s basketball is more fundamentally sound than men’s basketball, women display nearly all of the same capabilities as their male counterparts, and it is made of women who are mothers! It’s amazing that, as inferior as we supposedly are to men athletically, our bodies allow us to grow a baby inside of us for 9 months, go through labor and delivery, nourish our babies, and still get back in shape and get back on the basketball court! Women are powerful and women’s basketball needs to glamourize that!
- Terah Kai Mustaf