We had the great pleasure to speak with Dr. Jenny Lind Withycombe about diversity among elite athletes. Dr. Withycombe, has over 15 years experience within the field of athletics as an athlete, coach, consultant, sport psychologist, and diversity and inclusion educator. Most notably Dr. Withycombe has worked with the NCAA, AMCC, and the US Rowing team.
Dr. Withycombe often gets asked:
Dr. Withycombe found that often athletes and coaches who are openly gay see themselves as a risk to their program's reputation. Some coaches will 'play dirty' by steering recruits away from competitors' programs because of sexual orientation.
The important thing to remember is that sexuality or gender identity should never be a 'problem'. Concern yourself with the culture of the program and building an inclusive program. Build the kind of program where sexuality, gender, race, or religion is openly accepted.
Remind people that you are trying to get the best performance by honoring everyone’s orientation, background, and identities. Dr. Withycomb suggests coaches state this outright during recruiting.
Be transparent, explain the culture of your program to recruits and parents. Openness, integrity, and self-respect should be at the core of your coaching style.
Studies show, teams that focus on creating more diverse inclusive programs saw many benefits such as increased creativity, more harmonious team environment and greater player happiness. They also enjoyed higher rates of success in terms of wins and losses.
Listen to other podcasts on a number of different LGBTQIA+ athlete topics including:
About our guest:
Dr. Jenny Lind Withycombe, has over 15 years’ experience within the field of athletics as an athlete, coach, consultant, sport psychologist, and diversity and inclusion educator.
Dr. Withycombe conducts Diversity Education workshops, talks, and planning sessions all over the United States; focusing on the current issues and unique challenges found within educational institutions and sports. Dr. Withycombe’s focus on best practices provides real-world strategies for influencing the culture in your departments and teams.
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