By Frank James
It's official. As of Friday, the new head football coach at Washington, D.C.'s Coolidge High School is a woman. The Washington Post reported the move was coming earlier in the week.
Natalie Randolph, a science teacher, a one-time college track star and former wide receiver herself in a woman's pro league, has made history by breaking a gender barrier few other women have gotten near, let alone past.
A signal of how much importance is being placed on her being named to the position: Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty introduced her at a news conference Friday. When's the last time you can remember a big-city mayor serving as the warm up act for a new high school coach?
All Things Considered host Robert Siegel talked with Randolph who said:
I think the biggest challenge will probably just be making sure that people focus on my kids. You know, I don't want this to overshadow their glory and their goals and them making it on to the next level. I just to make sure they get the best out of their high school experience.
Randolph, apparently the only woman out of 15,000 high school football head coaches nationwide, will likely continue to draw a lot of attention for the very reason of her uniqueness.
And not all of that attention will be positive. In the testosterone-filled world of football,
it's likely opposing coaches and players will be particularly determined to win so as not to be beaten by a team led by a woman.
But she's clearly smart and a proven competitor. And she will no doubt have many people pulling for her as she charts the X's and O's and tries to get those all important W's.