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D.C. High School Football Team Picks Woman Coach

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Now, breaking through the glass goal line. 29-year-old Natalie Randolph already has quite a resume. She was a track star at the University of Virginia. For five years she was wide receiver with the D.C. Divas - that's a woman's pro football team. She's a high school science teacher.

And now to all that she can add head coach of a varsity high school football team. Today, Randolph accepted an offer from Coolidge High School in Washington D.C. to coach their football team and she joins us now to talk about her new job. Congratulations.

Ms. NATALIE RANDOLPH (Head Football Coach, Coolidge High School): Thank you. Thank you.

SIEGEL: And as we understand it, there were more than 15,000 football coaches that there were last year and you are the only female head coach right now. What kind of challenges do you face?

Ms. RANDOLPH: I think the biggest challenge will probably just be making sure that people focus on my kids, you know, I don't want, like, this to overshadow their glory and their goals and their making it on to the next level. I just want to make sure that they get the best out of their high school experience.

SIEGEL: Well, then what do you make of the announcement of your hiring today, which, let's say, received a little bit more press attention than most D.C. high school football coach signings.

Ms. RANDOLPH: It's - you know, it's great. I've gotten a lot of support, and I understand that this comes with the territory. It is quite different, and I'm anxious to get started actually. We're little bit behind already since it is March and most programs start in January. So I want to get started and get this thing rolling, so that the kids get the best that they can.

SIEGEL: How are your dealings with the kids going? How do they take to the idea of a woman coach?

Ms. RANDOLPH: They were so supportive. They were all really great. You know, I haven't gotten any negatives from them at all.

SIEGEL: Do you aspire someday to coach at other levels? I know it's rather early in your high school coaching career, but do you imagine someday being, say, a college varsity coach?

Ms. RANDOLPH: I don't know, it's not really a goal right now, but, you know, I guess I didn't really anticipate this either. It's not something I'm focusing on right now. I'm focusing on this season and getting the kids where they need to be.

SIEGEL: The Washington Post has reported on this and in some of the comments that people made online, many of them supportive and some of them, you know, fairly cranky about what's a woman doing coaching a high school football team.

Ms. RANDOLPH: Oh well, you know, there are going to be naysayers anywhere you go. I'm focused on my goal and everybody here supports me and that's all that really matters right now. Everybody's entitled to their own opinion. It's a free country.

SIEGEL: I saw that - I saw that you graduated from one of Washington's finest private schools.

Ms. RANDOLPH: Yeah.

SIEGEL: (unintelligible) to UVA

Ms. RANDOLPH: Yeah.

SIEGEL: How important are the academic standards for your football players going to be at Coolidge?

Ms. RANDOLPH: I want these kids to be prepared for everything. I mean, athletics is a means to an end. I want them to be complete young men. I want them to succeed in the next level and that's my main concern.

SIEGEL: Thank you, Natalie Randolph.

Ms. RANDOLPH: Okay, thanks so much.

SIEGEL: Natalie Randolph, who today accepted an offer to become head coach of Coolidge High School's varsity football team in Washington D.C. And we should mention that she is not the first woman to be a head coach. That honor went to Wanda Oates back in 1985 when she accepted the job at Ballou High School, also here in Washington. Oates, however, was forced out after only one day.

NORRIS: We'll have more in a minute on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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