The Atlantic

The Field Where Men Still Call the Shots

The lack of female coaches in youth sports can make lasting impressions on boys and girls.

Source: Nacho Doce / Reuters

For teenagers aspiring to make it onto a high-school sports team, the summer-vacation days of sleeping in are drawing to a close. By mid-August, many hopeful athletes will be exerting themselves before a cadre of school coaches, striving to demonstrate their fitness or conceal their summer sloth. Younger kids, too, soon will be back on the playing fields—if they ever left—and will begin training for their miniature versions of  various varsity sports.  

Maggie Moriarty was one of those kids. Long before she began competing for the women’s lacrosse team at Holy Cross College, she shined on dozens of youth and school athletic squads. As a tiny, ponytailed 5-year-old, Moriarty played soccer on the town league, adding lacrosse and basketball the next year. Her athletic prowess followed her to high school, where every fall she played varsity soccer as the team’s scrappy midfielder, and every spring she excelled from the attack position as a four-year varsity lacrosse player. By the time she graduated in 2016, she held her high school’s record for assists.

As is true for many serious young athletes, sports have shaped Moriarty’s life and identity. She recalls vividly one soccer game during sophomore year, when her team tied a local rival in the county tournament and it was her turn the state championship.   

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