Written by Kevin Hambly, January 25, 2021
Late in May 2020, when our country was in the throes of civil unrest, the PAC-12 coaches had a major wake up call. Not that we were alone, the whole country had a long-overdue wake-up call. Along with everyone who is not of color, we felt the opportunity at the moment to educate ourselves, our families, and our teams. We also looked around on the call and saw mostly white faces looking at each other, and as we looked at our respective staff, we saw similar makeup. We realized that change was needed!
The conversation moved to why is there a lack of diversity on our staff? Those that have diversity on their staff, what led to that? How do we hire? Who do we hire?
What we all realized is we hire people we know. We hire people our friends or people we trust recommend as great candidates. We rarely hire outside of that range. We also talked about how that was normal and how most coaches hire. We realized we needed as a coaches group that we need to get to know and develop relationships with coaches of color.
Charita Stubbs, Matt Ulmer, and I started a text thread on how we could resolve this issue? We concluded that we needed to create a mentorship program where we regularly meet, bring to our campus, develop coaches’ education, and develop real personal relationships with a diverse coaches pool. The thinking is if we build relationships and give more coaches the tools, we can hire these coaches in the future or, at the very least, recommend them for jobs.
We presented this concept to the PAC-12 coaches and spitballed ideas. We added True North (a coaches teaching organization), added monthly zooms with all the PAC-12 coaching staff, added monthly meetings with every SWA from PAC-12 Universities, joined forces with the AVCA Diversity Awards program, and committed to raising enough money for six mentees for an entire calendar year. The PAC-12 Diversity program was born, and we were committed to starting it in January 2021. Every coach donated to the program to make this possible.
It turns out ideas are much more challenging to execute than we imagined. I will spare the details of the execution of this plan. We set up our own non-profit, partnered with TeamWorks, and found generous corporate sponsorships to make this possible this year.
We have since chosen our mentees and paired them with this year’s mentor coaches.
We have started our programming. I am fortunate enough to take the first month of educational zooms. We met about the “The Profession of Coaching and Developing a Culture Within Your Programs.”
The mentees are going to meet with Heather Owen, the Senior Women’s Administrator at Stanford, and they will discuss “Art of the Interview/Developing cover letter/Resume.” The month of February will be Oregon’s month, and they will do two presentations. The coaching staff will present on “Assessing Talent,” and Lisa Peterson the SWA “Developing relationships with Administration/Support Staff.”
Simone Asque from Seton Hall is with our program, and we have weekly Zoom’s. We have already covered several vital topics ranging from hiring staff, forming partnerships, and periodization, to name a few. It has been such a rewarding experience already, and I look forward to future calls.
The PAC-12 hopes that other conferences and other sports see what we are doing and try to develop their mentorship programs. I encourage anyone reading this and has questions to reach out to me, and we would be happy to help navigate how to pull this off – including using our non-profit to make it possible. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and our website is diversitymentorship.org.
As PAC-12 coaches, we know that there is so much work to be done in our country regarding social justice. We also know that this doesn’t move the needle at all; we are not claiming that. We are just trying to be better about hiring non-white coaches in our conference. Our conference coaches inspire me by their willingness to serve and commit to the program in perpetuity. I am excited to see how this program spreads and grows over the next decade.
Kevin Hambly, Co-Founder + CEO, Diversity Mentorship Program
To learn more about this initiative, please visit the Diversity Mentorship Program website.