Women Leaders of Louisville Athletics

Coaches and staff at the Thornton’s Center for Academic Excellence.

By Mike Rutherford

Photos by Frankie Steele

A little over 45 years ago, one single sentence slipped into an education bill and signed into law by President Richard Nixon changed the landscape of American amateur athletics forever.

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Title IX was supposed to give female athletes in high school and college as much of an opportunity to pursue their dreams as their male counterparts. While the landmark legislation banning sex discrimination in any educational program receiving federal funding has certainly cracked the door open wider for women looking to make a career in sports, the playing field is still anything but level.

Women now make up more than half of all college undergraduates, but they still don’t get their equal share of athletic opportunities. A 2010 study by the NCAA revealed that women composed almost 53 percent of the aggregate student body but were under 46 percent of the schools’ student athletes. Those female student athletes also received, on average, just 39.6 percent of their athletic departments’ overall spending, a national figure that has remained virtually unchanged for 15 years.

The idea that major college athletics is still very much a “boys club” gets its best support from the disparity between male and female professionals in the field. Even though Title IX has dramatically increased the number of female college athletes, it has not increased the number of women coaches. In fact, it’s done the opposite. In 1972, women coached about 90 percent of women’s college sports teams. Today, that number sits at 43 percent.

UofL Coaches: Lacrosse, Kelly Young; Softball, Sandy Pearsoll; Volleyball, Dani Busboom-Kelly; Women’s Golf, Courtney Trimble; Women’s Soccer, Karen Ferguson-Dayes; Field Hockey, Justine Sowry.

The numbers only tell half the story here. For many women, getting access to the college sports club was a struggle trumped only by their efforts to try and find equal treatment after their membership kicked in. Recent gender discrimination lawsuits involving the universities of Iowa and Tennessee have pulled back the curtain to show how some women who attained powerful positions at powerful athletic programs weren’t really in possession of the power their jobs ought to have wielded.

Both lawsuits detailed cultures where the ideas of female professionals were consistently ignored, and worse, where an environment that welcomed sexual discrimination and harassment was promoted. They also opened the door for women formerly or currently employed by other major athletic departments to speak out about their similar experiences. Despite attempting to convey a public image that would indicate otherwise, it’s clear that a number of high-profile athletic departments still have a fraternity mentality that they are in no hurry to part with.

This isn’t the case when it comes to Tom Jurich’s University of Louisville athletic department. It hasn’t been for two decades.

“Every sport is equally important here at Louisville,” said Amy Calabrese, a former Cardinal athlete and UofL’s current Assistant Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Development. “Being a former women’s soccer student-athlete for the Cardinals, my experience was second to none and that’s still the case today. Tom has always advocated for each and every sport to have a first class experience regardless of if it was a male or female team. Coaches are coaches. Athletes are athletes. Cardinals are Cardinals. It’s that simple.”

Since Jurich arrived in 1997, UofL has added four women’s sports—rowing, lacrosse, golf and softball-—taking the total number of women’s sports at Louisville from nine to 13. Over that same time span, he has helped increase the number of female athletes at UofL by a whopping 166 percent (147 in 1997 to 391 now), and increased the scholarship and financial aid devoted to women’s sports by more than 600 percent ($767,000 in 1997 to $5.5 million now).

“Tom has always advocated for each and every sport to have a first class experience regardless of if it was a male or female team. Coaches are coaches. Athletes are athletes. Cardinals are Cardinals. It’s that simple.”
— Amy Calabrese, Assistant Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Development

The investments have paid off for Jurich when it comes to the teams’ performances. The UofL women’s basketball program has gone from one which had never been to a Sweet 16 to a perennial top 10 squad that has played in two national championship games. The Cardinal swimming and diving program have produced a pair of national champions and world record holders in the last two years with Kelsi Worrell and Mallory Comerford. Louisville softball has been a mainstay in the NCAA Tournament since the advent of the program, and the lacrosse and field hockey teams have thrived in the ACC, spending considerable portions of each of the past three seasons ranked somewhere in the top 10.

When talking with the coaches of these programs who have enjoyed such a remarkable rise to prominence in recent years about the reasons for that success, there is always one constant.

“Tom is an incredible leader,” said UofL women’s golf coach Courtney Trimble. “He has the ability to make you feel as though your program is one of the most important in the department no matter how big or small your team is. He is always asking ‘what do you need to help grow your program?’ Because of these things, you want to achieve great things for Tom and the University of Louisville. I have never worked for another leader that has truly made you feel that they believe in your ability to lead and he empowers you to be able to get the job done.”

In addition to his commitment to women’s sports, Jurich has also made equal opportunity a priority when it comes to his own staff.

A large number of Jurich’s top administration posts are currently filled by women, a trend that has been around since his first days as Louisville’s athletic director. It’s a tendency that has resulted in UofL ranking among the nation’s leaders at both the college and professional level when it comes to employing women in senior administrative roles.

“[Tom Jurich] is a servant leader, a feminist and treats his staff with not just great respect but as his family.”
— Julianne Waldron, Associate Athletic Director for Marketing and External Relations

“Tom is the finest leader I’ve ever had the pleasure to work for,” said Julianne Waldron, UofL’s associate athletic director for marketing and external relations. “He is a servant leader, a feminist and treats his staff with not just great respect but as his family. He guides me when I need him as great mentors should. But similarly, great mentors also let their students rise and fall on their own. He is a liberating manager, empowering me to solve challenges on my own, to lead and develop a talented team and to be ever-innovative in my work. It is that secret ingredient that sets him apart and makes this department the speed train that everyone wants to get on.”

A consistent theme when talking to the women who help make the UofL athletics train go is the notion that they never feel as though their voice is unheard. Even when ideas are met with resistance or disagreement, Jurich has fostered an environment at UofL where all employees feel comfortable to say their peace and receive an honest and well thought-out response. It’s a deserved freedom that the women have wholeheartedly embraced for years.

“There’s not a shrinking violet in the bunch-nor should there be,” UofL assistant athletic director, brand marketing and licensing Lottie Stockwell said of Louisville’s female administrators. “College athletics runs at a breakneck pace, even in the offseason, and you have to have a strong personality to succeed. As you would imagine, all these strong personalities bring a lot of lively, healthy discourse. We challenge each other, we support each other and there’s no other group I’d rather work side by side with every day.”

Alyssa Murphy, UofL’s director of student athlete leadership and development, echoed Stockwell’s sentiment.

“Having the freedom to come up with ideas, reach out directly to coaches and student athletes, and figure out what works best, is an atmosphere that I don’t take for granted. When I was hired for my job, Mr. Jurich said to me that he wanted me to make sure I made a difference in the lives of our student athletes, but in particular he wanted to be sure our female student athletes were ready for the careers that they would begin after earning their degree. It is something that has stuck with me everyday and motivation for me to be the best female mentor that I can be.

Louisville Athletics Administration: Amy Calabrese, Asst. AD, Student-Athlete Development; Kim Maffet, Assoc. AD, Human Relations; Christine Herring, Senior Women’s Administrator, Assoc. AD; Julianne Waldron, Assoc, AD, Marketing & External Relations; Christine Simatacolos, Assoc. AD, Student Life; Lauren Rust, Asst. AD, Compliance; Lottie Stockwell, Asst. AD, Brand Marketing & Licensing; Alyssa Murphy, Director of Student-Athlete Leadership & Development.

“Coming to work every day gives me so much joy. My passion is helping our student athletes to not only be successful at the University of Louisville, but to uncover their leadership strengths and realize their potential in the careers that they are interested in pursuing.”

One of the most common explanations for the lack of women coaches and high-level administrators in American sports is the same one that’s used to justify why just 24 of Fortune 500 companies employ female CEOs. Despite the strides our society has made in the last 100 years or so, there’s still a wide gap in the way we view men and women after both become parents. While the male role in the workplace is expected to be minimally affected by becoming a father, everything is supposed to change for women. The mother is still seen as the primary caregiver, a role which makes it impossible for her professional existence to pick back up without a hitch once she returns from maternity leave. The result of this phenomenon for professionals across the country is that they feel pressured into accepting a diminished role in the workplace after becoming a mother, or worse, they feel pressured into walking away from their professional life entirely.

Again, this isn’t the case at the University of Louisville. All eight of UofL’s high-ranking female administrators interviewed for this story have families and school-age children, and all eight said that they hadn’t felt any pressure to prioritize their professional role over their role as a mother. In fact, all eight said that the “family first” environment at UofL had resulted in a situation where their roles as parents and professionals have been able to co-exist as harmoniously as possible.

“I came back to work at UofL after having three children because of the family atmosphere,” said Christine Simatacolos, UofL associate athletic director for student life. “My kids come to games with me, participate in UofL sports camps and get to know the coaches and student-athletes. Tom Jurich allows me to be the mother I want to be. That was important to me when I decided to come back to work here. He trusts that I will get the work done, while my kids are still my priority.”

For years, mothers have been hammered over and over with the idea that they “can’t do it all.” Christine Herring, UofL’s associate athletic director and senior women’s administrator, says that long-standing idea is simply not true. It just takes the right environment and being surrounded by the right people.

“Being a mom is the best job I have ever been blessed with,” Herring said. “I have found over the last two and a half years, that my life is about balance. There are times I feel like I am failing in one direction at home or another direction at work because I’m still learning how to do it all, well. However, the things that I’ve learned through both being a mom and a strong female leader in sports have been invaluable. Learning to say ‘no’ to doing everything is ok. Learning to be vulnerable and honest is admirable. I have learned that being strong and demonstrating resilience is necessary to earning respect from others. As a mother, you can do it all, but prioritizing is critical. Hearing my boss tell me that being a mom comes first is validation that I work for someone who not only cares about me professionally, but personally as well. In turn, it motivates me to give myself 100 percent to the advancement of this department and university.”

In the last 20 years, Louisville athletics has enjoyed an unprecedented period of success. State of the art facilities have been erected, a move to perhaps the country’s premier conference has been made, and numerous championships have been won. None of it would have been possible without the women leaders of Louisville Athletics.  VT

Better With Age

Pat Broecker, Paula Bertolotti from Connecticut, and Penn Broecker in front of Wallace Station

By Carla Sue Broecker

WALLACE STATION

If you haven’t been to Wallace Station you have missed a meal to die for! 

We had a guest from New York and our cousins Penn and Pat Broecker took us out for lunch. They said it was an unusual place, off the beaten path and had great food. Sounded good to us!

We got off the expressway and took the Old Frankfort Pike towards Versailles in Woodford County, in the heart of Kentucky’s Bluegrass horse country. We went to Wallace Station that is on the National Register of Historic Places as a surviving example of a small railroad community.

It was the first town in Kentucky established by a railroad and founded along an east-west railroad line in the 1830s. It continues to exist as an R.J. Corman Railroad track that still passes thru downtown. The current building was built at the turn of the 20th century by the McKinivan family. The McKinivans lived upstairs (now office space) and operated a store downstairs.

The store and gas station sold feed, machinery, fencing and other farming necessities, as well as consumer goods such as fabric and groceries. At one time, the building also served as a post office.

Dr. Thomas D. Clark, the late Kentucky historian, said that the former child bride of emancipationist and politician Cassius Clay, Dora Brock, who lived on the adjacent farm was laid out in the store when she died in 1914.  Clay, whom she had divorced a few years after their marriage in the 1890s, had bought her a little house on the farm, where she died in poverty.

The country store operated until it was purchased by Larry Taylor around 2001. Chris and Ouita Michel opened Wallace Station Deli and Bakery there in 2003, where it continues to serve delicious food with great service and hospitality.

It doesn’t look like much but it is worth the drive up there. We got there early and there was already a line. I grabbed a table and the others got in line to order and pay for lunch. It took me back to my childhood and the grocery/saloon at Springdale on Brownsboro Road.

Host Ron McMakin and his sister in law Beverly, her husband Billy, Brad Broecker, Carol Osborne, Jan Corum and the birthday boy Dan Schusterman.

The fried sweet banana pepper rings, the artichoke fritters with smoked tomato ranch and the Bourbon trail Chili Nachos were to die for! Try the Whitesburg Soup Beans n’ Cornbread! Go early! There is always a line out the door.

It is even better than White Castle and that is a lot coming from me!

Chef Ouita Michel not only operates Wallace Station, but also has Holly Hill Inn; Windy Corner; Midway Bakery; Smithtown; and Woodford Reserve Glenn’s Creek Café.

BIRTHDAY BOY

“Cousin Ron” McMakin hosted a 88th birthday dinner for “Cousin Dan” Schusterman last week at his charming home in Surrey Place off Massie Avenue. The two men are what I call “Kissin’ Cousins”. Ron was the favorite cousin of  Dan’s late wife Sug (or Lee). Both of the cousins were reared in the close knit community of LaGrange.

Ron, a retired banker, has turned into a marvelous cook in his leisure time. He loves to entertain friends and family at his beautiful townhouse that is filled with generations of family antiques. An invitation to dinner there is always eagerly looked forward to.

In his “salad days,” before he retired from banking and raising a puppy, he would travel with us. One wonderful holiday was a winter trip to Switzerland with Joann Gammon along for the fun. The snow was deep and it was spectacular. We were very happy to be “on lookers” and not make fools of ourselves on the slopes! Instead, we took the train through the mountains and fell in love with the small villages.

Now that his puppy is a large full-grown dog, Ron doesn’t travel much. That is great for his friends and family as he has taken up cooking and entertaining as a full time hobby. VT

Stock the Bar Party

Photos by Bill Wine

Friends and family of Eric Voet and Kaitlyn Oates gathered together for a stock the bar shower on August 12. The event took place in the Speakeasy Room at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, where guests enjoyed drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Those in attendance brought gifts of liquor to help the pair begin their marriage in a “spirited” way.

Kickoff Banquet

Photos by Bill Wine

The Louisville Men’s Soccer team launched their 2017 season with a banquet on August 11. Athletes, coaches and guests enjoyed a cocktail hour, sit-down dinner, guest speakers and alumni recognition. A special interview with alumni Stefan Cleveland and Daniel Johnson, both of whom play for the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, was held via Skype.

MVP Reveal

Photos by Bill Wine

In advance of The Brown-Forman 2017/18 Season, Kentucky Opera launched their MVP (Most Valuable Patron) contest guaranteeing one lucky winner a Raymond Weil timepiece courtesy of Davis Jewelers among a bounty of other wonderful prizes. The MVP was revealed to be General Electric’s Allison Myers who was gifted her stylish new watch on August 15.

Formal Investiture of Jessica A. Moore

Photos by Tim Valentino

Family, friends and colleagues gathered in the jury pool room at Jefferson County Judicial Center for the ceremonial swearing in of the Honorable Jessica Moore. Judge Moore was appointed to the office of District Judge for the 30th Judicial District, Division 11 by Governor Matt Bevin.

Quappi Projects Grand Opening

Photos by Tim Valentino

The grand opening of Quappi Projects and the exhibition opening of Adam Chuck’s “Instant Gratification” brought droves of art enthusiasts to the new gallery space in the Portland neighborhood. Friends, family and fans raised a glass to the success of of this new artistic endeavor by John Brooks.

An Evening of Jazz

Photos by Bill Wine

Jazz fans gathered at KCD Theater on August 18 for a reception and concert sponsored by Brown-Forman and LG&E. The Ansyn Banks Quintet performed a tribute to singer, composer and trumpet player Kenny Dorham. Ansyn Banks is a nationwide performer and professor of jazz trumpet at UofL.

Revelry Turns Seven

Photos by Max Sharp

Revelry Boutique Gallery in NuLu celebrated seven successful years on August 12. Artist Erik Orr, one of the boutique’s first featured artists, returned to present “New Works,” a new collection of art featuring iconic figures from Louisville and beyond.

Taste of Frankfort Avenue

Photos by Bill Wine

On August 13, foodies from all over town congregated at the Clifton Center for this annual tasting event. Over 25 local restaurants participated, including Silver Dollar, the Grape Leaf, Volare and many more. The evening’s entertainment was provided by the Louisville Folk School.

Boots & BBQ Bash

Photos by Bill Wine

On August 19, KentuckyOne Health hosted this annual bash at Louisville Marriott East. Attendees wore their sassiest Southern attire, enjoyed dinner and took home some excellent prizes from the live and silent auctions. Nervous Melvin and the Mistakes provided high energy tunes as guests danced the night away.

The Bourbon Mixer

Photos by Tim Valentino

The Whisky Chicks and the Bourbon Brotherhood once again joined forces to host this event on August 19. Held at the Henry Clay, this celebration featured bourbon tastings, specialty cocktails and delicious Southern foods. Guests were also able to meet and mingle with Master Distillers from Copper & Kings, Bulleit and other participating distilleries.