By Brady Cote
Anna Steinman is the men’s and women’s cross country head coach and assistant track and field coach at Springfield College. The veteran, now in her seventh year as a coach on Alden Street, got her start coaching at her alma mater, Salisbury College in Maryland, where she spent two seasons as the graduate assistant. She is the only female head coach in the NEWMAC who coaches both the men’s and women’s cross country teams.
In addition to coaching, Steinman continues to train for and run races, including the 126th Boston Marathon – a race that, not long ago, only men could compete in. It was not until 1967, when Katherine Switzer became the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon as an officially registered competitor. What made Steinman’s race even more special is that it also marked the 50th year anniversary of Title IX, the landmark law guaranteeing equal opportunity in federally funded programs.
Where did these opportunities come about?
Steinman: In my grad assistant position, I was given more coaching responsibilities to really get to coach the men and women distance runners. We had some pretty talented people on the team at the time and also had some people that I could really help develop. I was also given a lot of responsibilities right away in recruiting to go out and meet people without too much guidance. [I was] kind of thrown out there, which I think was a good way to start.
What does Title IX mean to you?
Steinman: I think Title IX means just being able to have an equal right to opportunity and to give other people equal opportunities but also showing other people that you can be in roles that maybe weren’t traditionally popular or available. If you want to dream about doing something, you should be able to have that chance and opportunity not only to do it but also to be mentored into that position as well.
What is it like to coach not only a women’s collegiate team but a men’s team as well?
Steinman: I think it’s a really nice opportunity to coach both men and women. To be honest, I’ve only known that, so to me it’s kind of normal. I don’t really have an answer to what’s different because it’s just that you’re coaching people in general. There have been times when some people don’t think, “Oh you’re the head coach,” or “You’re one of the coaches,” especially if it’s a men’s meet. Or if you get on a bus and the bus driver doesn’t assume that you’re the coach. But that kind of stuff doesn’t even matter. Other than that, there’s no difference. It’s just coaching the people.
What would you like to see changed in the future with Title IX?
Steinman: I think, not just with sports like cross country and track and swimming that are more co-ed, allowing people to have opportunities and trusting people. I really do think it comes from the mentorship. If men are the head coaches, to begin with then they are the ones who have to give the opportunity, and they’re the ones in leadership positions that have to put in the trust and give the opportunities. I think that’s what it starts from, but if people really believe that they can do it then all the athletes will believe it too. It’s also about finding the right coach too, not just the gender.