We meet with Katrina Sainovich Line Coach for the Hill City Stampede, a men?s semi professional team in Lynchburg, Virginia. A exciting young coach who is looking forward to the future. Katrina still plays herself and we discuss female coaches, players and being a little shorter than her players!
How did you become an American Football Coach? Did you play first and work your way to being a coach?
I played women’s tackle football for eight years for three different teams, the Pittsburgh Force, the Pittsburgh Passion, and currently with the Carolina Phoenix. I was going to retire from football after the 2015 as I was a part of the Carolina Phoenix that won the Independent Women’s Football Founders Bowl. I was pretty banged up at the end of the season, that I thought that I should hang up the cleats, but I wasn?t ready to part ways with football entirely. I was lucky enough to be brought on staff to coach the offensive line for a men’s semi professional team in Lynchburg, Virginia called the Hill City Stampede. However, through coaching I realized I wasn’t ready to give up playing so I will be finishing up the season playing for the Carolina Phoenix.
The NFL and American Football in the US are making huge strides towards the equality of coaching and leadership,?but what is the situation like for coaches outside of the top leagues?
I think that women coaching at various level of football is growing. With Jen Welter and Kathryn Smith becoming involved in coaching a high level, I feel that more opportunities will become available to women in the future. I’ve been very fortunate to have been selected by the Hill City Stampede because they are incredibly respectful and have been encouraging both management and players.
How did you qualify as a coach? Was there other ladies on your course?
There are three other women apart of the team-the vice-president/co-founder, sales manager, and the athletic trainer. I’m the only woman on the coaching side of things. As for coaching, I had to interview with the president/founder and vice-president/co-founder. It was during the interview that I talked about everything from the offenses that I’ve been a part of in the past to women?s football in general to some of my favourite offensive line drills.
As a coach of a male team, are you in the minority? And how do your team react to your coaching style? (I also coach guys and I find the dynamic within the guys team very different)
I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of a team that has been accepting and respectful. I feel like I’m one of the guys most of the time. I think that when I first started out I was more nervous about coaching men then the guys were of having a female coach.? When I introduced myself to the line, I started out with?it may be a little weird having a female as a coach. One of the players stopped me and asked if I knew anything about football.? I told him that after seven years playing I should know a little something. He then shrugged and said good enough for me. After that there’s been no mention about gender. The only issues I’ve been having is I’m really short compared to the guys. I feel like at times I?m on my tip toes watching games or directing certain drills.
Can you tell us about some of your achievements as a Coach?
The first win that we had was special because that was my first win as a coach. But I think my favourite achievement has been seeing some of my older guys who had little to no experience working hard and earning starting spots. It’s just amazing to see how far they have come from day one.
What advice would you give to other women who are considering becoming an American Football coach?
I think that there are so many opportunities out there, they should just go out in do it. See if you can shadow, go to coaching clinics. It is just a rewarding experience. Also, I believe that you should never live with regrets. Don’t wonder down the road if you should have tried your hand at coaching.
Where do you see the future of both the womens game, and women in coaching this sport?
I really hope that eventually you will see a professional women?s football league with a developmental league to pull talent from. As for coaching, I believe that with Jen Welter and now Kathryn Smith for the Buffalo Bills, more doors will open for women to coach in general and at all levels.
What are your future ambitions as a coach?
I hope that one day I can coach a women’s professional team, but we have to work on the women’s league first.
Author: Sarah Jauncey is an American Football Coach from the UK. From the glitz and glamour of multi-million dollar franchises in the US, Sarah coaches the sport in much more humble settings. Sarah is the Head Coach of her local team and the only female coach in the GB set up. To find out more about Sarah, read our exclusive interview with her?HERE