History was made Saturday afternoon in Louisville.
Saturday’s meeting between the Brown School and Ballard Memorial High School was believed to be the first time that two Kentucky boys varsity teams featuring female coaches faced off, according to a Jefferson County Public Schools news release. In the end, Ballard Memorial’s Marla Cooper was victorious over Brown’s Erin Spalding, by a score of 68-56.
There have been a handful of female head coaches of boys varsity teams in the history of Kentucky high school basketball, but it’s unclear if any of them had ever coached against one another in a game. And while this game could be seen as a chance to shatter glass ceilings and stereotypes keeping more women from joining boys basketball coaching staffs, Spalding said she wasn’t thinking about that when she scheduled the game.
“To be honest, me and her laughed after the game,” Spalding said of the significance. “Neither one (of us) realized it was going to be that big of a deal. Both of us are small schools so it was a really good competitive game for us. I had no idea it would be this magnitude. I did it because it was a challenging opportunity to test my team.”
Spalding said that through her first season as a varsity coach, she hasn’t witnessed any issues or instances of harassment from fans or opposing coaches, but she also said her focus is solely on her team.
Spalding said she understands the significance of her position, and she said she hopes other women follow her and Cooper’s lead.
“Anything that opens doors for people I think is good,” Spalding said. “There’s a stereotype that women can’t coach as well as men or women don’t know as much about basketball as men, and I don’t think that’s true. There’s a lot of great women in basketball and great coaches. Hopefully, this breaks those stereotypes too.”