Today we are sharing (with permission) a portion of an email from Evan Twichell, a former year of service staff member at Girls in the Game. Girls in the Game’s staff is generally made up of women, not because of any requirements on our part but simply because the nature of our mission and our name tend to attract a female staff. However, we value male staff members, volunteers, supporters and coaches that jump in to support our mission to serve girls. Evan’s email is addressed to another male volunteer with the Lutheran Volunteer Corps who is considering Girls in the Game for his placement. He gives perspective on the power of male coaches communicating our mission.
I was part of the Lutheran Volunteer Corps in Chicago, and my placement was at Girls in the Game. I enjoyed my time at Girls in the Game and I definitely learned a lot. I was a program specialist so I lead programming with the girls through after school sessions, game days, summer camp, spring clinic, and I coached the Girls in the Game triathlon team in the summer.
I was the only male staff at the time and there were a few challenges being male, but most of the time I was so absorbed in the teaching and planning that I didn’t think about it. At a new school or program I always got a lot of questions about why I was at a place called Girls in the Game if I was boy. To this I usually would say something about how I love coaching, and that I don’t think it’s fair that there are way more sports programs for boys. I would always say girls are awesome at sports, and that’s why I like coaching them. Simple stuff but coming from a male coach teaching all girls it can be powerful.
As soon as I would begin coaching and they saw that I was there for them, focused and confident with what I was doing, the fact that I was male wasn’t a big deal. Most of the staff at Girls in the Game are female, and it’s great that the girls can see women who are confident in sports and in leadership positions, but in a different way you have a lot of power as a male who develops a positive relationship with the girls and tells them they can do sports and be leaders. Often girls don’t have relationships with males who tell them they can do these things. Dating, couples, appearances, and status are a majority of what some of these girls would think about in terms of males, and to break away from those roles is very different from what they are used to.
There were countless times when I was asked by the girls if I was in a relationship, who I thought was cute or attractive (celebrities and even my fellow coaches at Girls in the Game), if I would go on dates with fellow coaches, or they would tell me about their romantic relationships, etc. These can be tricky questions to address as a male in a leadership position at Girls in the Game, but they are amazing learning experiences for the girls if you know how to handle them and can be an example of what healthy relationships can be. I got great training at Girls in the Game for dealing with these situations and others that came up in my position.
The hands on experience at Girls in the Game was amazing. I learned so much more about teaching, working full time, and how much power you can have to make positive changes in someone’s life. I also learned a great deal about myself and what I find meaningful in life. I was given a lot of responsibility and freedom which was definitely a little scary and challenging, but I grew so much from it. It also really opened my eyes to a lot of social justice issues that I hadn’t thought about before.
You can’t go wrong with Girls in the Game!