Women With A Voice In Sports: Lynn University Women’s Basketball Head coach
Brianna Smith: How has coaching a team impacted your life?
Julia Huddleson Tucker: “All of the young women I’ve coached have made a huge impact on my life. My goal as a coach is to mentor these young leaders through the game of basketball and help them become stronger, and more confident through the process. However, every year I realize how much I gain from each of them as well. These young women have shared so much of their lives with me that I swell up with joy seeing them succeed during and after college! Every year I am entrusted with the task of mentoring and coaching about 15 young women and I don’t take that lightly. Coaching is one of the most difficult yet most rewarding jobs I could imagine. The most rewarding part is having “daughters” all over the world that I am able to stay in contact with and continue to learn and grow with.”
Brianna Smith: Did you always know that coaching, inspiring, and/or teaching was a path you wanted to take?
Julia Huddleson Tucker: “I discovered my passion for sports at a young age. Both of my grandfather’s were coaches and so was my dad. I have been around sports and teams all of my life. However, the most inspiring experience for me was being the captain of my college basketball team. The role of leading your peers is not easy, but it was the moment I realized how much I loved inspiring, motivating, and mentoring others. I knew there was nothing else in the world that I wanted to do more than continue to lead and mentor through basketball.”
Brianna Smith: In a society like today’s, women are breaking down countless barriers, even those which some may feel as though women aren’t equipped, what are some challenges you have faced as a woman and how have you handled (it) them?
Julia Huddleson Tucker: “It has been an incredible feeling to witness barriers being broken over and over again by incredible women. Each of these leaders are creating a path for more opportunities for women in the future.
However, I do believe the most glaring challenges women face in sports is still equality. Unfortunately, many people still don’t consider women who coach or play sports as equal counterparts to men who do the same thing. Title IX has helped on all college campuses to enforce gender equity. However, most teams still battle with fan support, community support, and media coverage, and an overall respect for women’s sports.”
In addition, for me personally, I still watch referees and other male coaches approach my male assistant thinking he must be the head coach. These types of situations can be frustrating if you allow them to bother you. However, I choose to use them as fuel to my fire and even more motivation to succeed!
Brianna Smith: Coaching a woman’s team, what are some life skills you try to teach your ladies in life and for the game?
Julia Huddleson Tucker: “We have a very strong foundation for our culture at Lynn University. The words Spirit, Service, and Strength can be seen in our gym and in each locker room. These three words are very powerful and help lead the way for our daily actions and decisions. It is also very important that each of our athletes understand the order of the words are just as important as the meaning. We teach them that Spirit and Service must come before Strength. There are a few defining words that help each athlete further understand each facet of our culture. For Spirit we focus on honor, confidence, and loyalty. For Service we focus on being others-minded, having humility, and empathy. Finally, for Strength we focus on excellence, maturity, and respect.”
Brianna Smith: What do you say to people who feel that “girls” should just stick to looking pretty and let the boys handle the “hard labor?”
Julia Huddleson Tucker: “I truly hope no one says this anymore.”
Brianna Smith: What is a piece of advice you would give to a young lady interested in joining a sport but unsure of going about ?
Julia Huddleson Tucker: “Depending on the age and the community the young lady lives in there should be many avenues to choose from to start participating in sports. Your local YMCA, your school, and your neighborhood recreation centers may all have options for you. I would highly encourage all young people to get involved in sports at a young age. The life lessons you gain from competing and being on a team are so valuable and will help instill great character traits like confidence, competitiveness, and humility. Finally, we all know physical health is a key component to overall health. Being involved in sports is a great way to stay physically fit while having fun!”