Grinnell College Receives a Tara VanDerveer Fund for the Advancement of Women in Coaching Grant from the Women’s Sports Foundation

September 14, 2022

Grinnell College received a Tara VanDerveer Fund for the Advancement of Women in Coaching grant from the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF). Grinnell College is one of 10 universities and colleges to receive the grants, which are designated for women coaching fellows in a wide variety of women’s sports. Grants were awarded to institutions to support collegiate women coaches on the rise, assisting with living expenses, professional development and mentorship.   

"We are proud to be a member of this year’s class of the Women’s Sports Foundation VanDerveer Fund recipients,” said Andy Hamilton ’85, Grinnell College director of athletics and recreation. “Grinnell recognizes the critical importance of closing the gender gap in the coaching ranks and seeing more women in these influential roles helps inspire our female student athletes. We are excited to welcome Kristland Damazo to our team as our new Fellow. A special thanks to Jani Springer, assistant athletic director for diversity, equity, inclusion and student success at Grinnell for sharing this grant opportunity with the Athletics Department,” added Hamilton. 

Grinnell’s Fellow is Kristland Damazo, who is coaching volleyball and being mentored by head coach Eric Ragan. A native of Beaver Falls, Pa., Damazo received her B.A. from Geneva College where she majored in sport management. During her time at Geneva, she was a two-time all-conference selection and helped lead her team to the NCAA tournament in 2011.  
She got her coaching start while in college at Geneva, where she coached with the Infiniti Volleyball Club out of Salem, Ohio. Damazo was also an assistant coach at the University of Valley Forge in 2017 and helped lead the team to a program best 18-7 record. Damazo resides in Grinnell with her husband, DJ, and three sons, Malachi, Simeon, and Josiah 
In the 50 years since Title IX’s passage, the percentage of women in collegiate coaching roles has declined. In the 1970-71 academic year, 90% of all head coaches for women’s college teams were women. In 2021, women held only 41% of these positions in women’s NCAA sports. In the same year only 28% of all NCAA assistant coaches were women. Furthermore, BIPOC women are particularly under-represented in the coaching ranks, making up just 7% of head coaches of women’s sports, and only 7% of all assistant coaches for men’s and women’s teams.  
The data clearly shows there is a lack of women in coaching positions at all levels of sport. WSF began awarding grants from the VanDerveer Fund in 2019 to change that at a collegiate level. Aspiring women coaches are able to jumpstart their careers and contribute to growing representation of women in the coaching space through the opportunities they receive from the Tara VanDerveer Fund. Hired by educational institutions that receive the grant, WSF VanDerveer Fellows receive mentorship from established collegiate coaches, hands-on-training and professional development resources.  

Since its inception, the WSF Fund has provided a total of $800,000 to 33 colleges and universities throughout the country, supporting 35 coaching fellows across 11 different sports. 

“Across all sports, women are underrepresented in positions of power and influence at senior leadership levels, including coaching,” said Danette Leighton, CEO of the Women's Sports Foundation. “WSF knows that glass ceilings are made to be broken. That's why we're proud to continue honoring Tara VanDerveer's history-making legacy with this important Fund to encourage and support women whose dream is to lead the next generation of athletes." 

To learn more about the VanDerveer Fund and meet the 2022 grant recipients, please visit: 

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