When it comes to hiring female coaches, Syracuse Athletics isn't exactly a trendsetter. Of course some of the women's squads are employing female coaches and moving them up the ranks, but perhaps there's no better way to help push gender equality in coaching along than for a men's program to bring on a qualified female coach.
As usual, we look to Jim Boeheim to lead the way for America when it comes to gender issues. Meet Katie Kolinski, the newest Syracuse men's basketball graduate assistant coach.
Donna Ditota did a great write-up on Kolinski, who attended West Genesee High School before she came to SU and became a student manager and eventually head manager of the squad. She did it with some good old-fashioned perseverance and gumption.
She contacted SU's head basketball manager before arriving on the Syracuse campus her freshman year. Kolinski said she was willing to do anything — stats, grunt work, whatever — to "get my foot in the door" of the Orange program. After a month-long tryout, she became one of several SU student managers. Over the past few years, she has worked mostly with SU assistant coach Mike Hopkins as he shapes the Orange big men.
She and Boeheim chatted about the possibility of her becoming a grad assistant during the upcoming season and he offered her the gig right after SU's run to the Final Four ended.
Kolinski has worked closely with players like Rakeem Christmas, Dajuan Coleman, Baye Keita and Paschal Chukwu, the last of which heaps praise on her for being the right person for the job, regardless of gender.
"This whole week, Hop wasn't here and she has been getting me off my ass to come work out every day. I really appreciate what she's doing for us," Chukwu said. "She tells you what to do and what you can do. Hop does a good job with confidence and I think she learned that too. She helps with confidence in workouts and she just keeps motivating you and making you work harder. If you feel like quitting, she does a good job of picking you up and making you do extra."
It's easy to look at Jim Boeheim from afar and assume he's too stuck in his ways and old school thinking to give a female coach an opportunity like this, but if you ask him he doesn't understand why it hasn't happened sooner.
"She's worked harder than any manager we've ever had," Boeheim said. "She understands the game. She wants to be a coach. And I'm delighted to give her the job. I'm not giving her the job just because she's a woman. I'm giving her the job because she's a really hard worker and wants to be a coach and she's a woman. All those things."
"I don't know. I don't know if they've tried (to get those jobs). She's the first one who really tried for me and I gave her the job," Boeheim said. "We had women managers way back. We've never had one who wanted to be a coach and now we do. She's earned it. Bottom line. You gotta earn these things. She's worked really hard and she's a really good coach. She knows what she's doing."
Kolinski's goal is to become a head basketball coach one day, whether it's with a men's or women's team. In the meantime, she's working on a master's degree in Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation from SU's School of Education and making a little basketball history on the side.