field investigation

Autumn Truesdale

Field Investigation

April 2019



Over the past few weeks, I have been involved with a coaching change. This is something I never thought would happen at my time at Richmond. There were a lot things at play that caused this change, but overall, I never thought this would be something I would experience during my collegiate career. This is one phenomenon that you hear about happening to other people and other teams across the country – never thought it would become my reality during my short time here at Richmond. There are a lot of correlations to this course and the coaching change. The keywords that come to mind are: power, censorship, and culture.

Power comes into play with this process because those in the athletic administration had the power over the team and its’ future. Because of their level of authority, the people who chose our new head coach had the power to pick and choose whether our coach would be male or female, amongst other important characteristics that comes with a head coaching job. It is very interesting to me how all of these keywords exist in this process, but there is also intersectionality in the works. I say this because there are more characteristics a head coach and his/her coaching staff must have in order to have a winning program. Without these certain characteristics, teams wouldn’t be as successful as others.

In addiition to power and intersectionality, there was also censorship in the mix. The people in authority not only had the power over us and the power to pick and choose whomever they saw best fit, but they also had control over what we could and could not say, who we could and could not see, and how they presented the “new” team. Coaching changes are not only emotional and most often times surprising, but they are also very political. Like any job, being a student-athlete is a business and we are “hired” under 1-year contracts that, seeing that you are holding up the end of your bargain, will extend to the 4 years you are at any institution.

Censorship is a complex concept – there are a lot of moving parts that are seen and unseen. Because of the amount of access and authority we had as players, there wasn’t much we could do in the three week waiting period that we were a part of. It intrigues me that as a team, we were able to transition nicely into this change.

Finally, this process also incorporates culture as a keyword. There is a distinct culture that the team had before the coaching change and there will inevitably but a different culture once he is here and establishes his foundation. Not only is it up to the coaching staff to create and change culture, but it is also up to the players. In my case, it is up to us to change the culture from what it has been for the past 14 years in order to have an attempt at success.