Barry McNamara  |   Published March 24, 2020

Coach and Author

Lacrosse coach Elizabeth Demara contributes chapter in book Critical Reflections and Politics on Advancing Women in the Academy.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – During her time as a college athlete, Elizabeth Demara made the conscious decision to pursue a career in coaching, thanks in part to the direction of a female mentor.

ELIZABETH DEMARA: ?From all the research, participation in sports has been a huge benefit to wome... ELIZABETH DEMARA: “From all the research, participation in sports has been a huge benefit to women in the workforce and to securing leadership positions in corporate America,”Now, thanks to the experiences she’s gained as a lacrosse coach, including the past four years in charge of Monmouth College’s women’s program, Demara can add “author” to her list of career titles.

Demara has co-written a chapter in the book Critical Reflections and Politics on Advancing Women in the Academy, scheduled to be released in April by IGI Global. Titled “The Emergence, Experiences, and Empowerment of Women Administrators, Coaches, and Athletes,” the chapter was co-authored with Lindsey Darvin, an assistant professor in the Sport Management Department at SUNY Cortland and a longtime friend of Demara.

“Dr. Darvin and I go pretty far back,” said Demara, who met her co-author while they were both working at a summer camp in 2012. “Most of Lindsey’s research has been about women in sports. Last summer, she reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in being part of the book project. I told her ‘I haven’t written anything in a long time.’”

But Demara was up for the challenge, and the two collaborated, working efficiently enough through GoogleDocs to get their chapter written a month ahead of schedule.

After being a two-sport NCAA athlete at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, Darvin embarked on a career in coaching and administration. Demara played Division I college lacrosse under Christy Malone Fleagle at St. Bonaventure University. Both authors are testament to a point they stress in their chapter: that “women and girls with past sport participation experience at the college level have been found to represent a higher proportion of women in leadership roles across a variety of industry segments.”

“From all the research, participation in sports has been a huge benefit to women in the workforce and to securing leadership positions in corporate America,” said Demara. “That’s sports at all levels, but particularly at the college level. And that’s not a new message. It’s really a lot of the things that we teach our players about the benefits of gaining leadership experiences through sports.”

While more opportunities for female athletes became available beginning in the 1970s under Title IX, the authors report there was not a corresponding rise in the number of women’s head coaches.

“Before Title IX took effect, most women’s teams were coached by women,” said Demara. “That percentage saw a steady decline. Part of that is because people tend to hire people who look like them.”

To help address that issue, Demara said it’s important for women coaches and administrators to “mentor young coaches and to give them reasons to keep active and engaged.”

For Demara, that meant receiving direction from her St. Bonaventure coach.

“Coach Malone was a great mentor to me,” said Demara. “We’re still very close, and I talk to her every week. My junior year, I started thinking about coaching, but I wasn’t sure. She told me, ‘You’d be great at it. Go for it.’ And I heard about a position that Eboni Preston-Laurent had at Sweet Briar College (in Virginia) and, again, I wasn’t sure. I said, ‘Do you think Eboni would hire me?’ And Coach Malone said, ‘Yes, go for it.’ And I interviewed for it and got the job on the spot.”

After working a year at Sweet Briar for Preston-Laurent – who is now a senior manager at U.S. Lacrosse – Demara was on the coaching staff at Alderson Broaddus University in West Virginia for two seasons. She has been at Monmouth since 2015 and was named senior woman administrator last fall.

In addition to writing their chapter, Demara and Darvin were also tasked with editing some of the book’s other 11 chapters, which include topics such as bridging the gap among academia, legislation and politics, and women’s advancement and leadership through the experiences of a longtime college president. It also includes reflections on a leadership expedition to Antarctica with 99 women.

The book’s three main authors, who are all from Canadian universities, write, “Critical Reflections and Politics on Advancing Women in the Academy is a critical scholarly publication that seeks to make the Academy responsive and inclusive for women advancement and sustainable empowerment strategies by broadening the understanding of why women in the Academy are overlooked in leadership positions, why there is a pay parity deficit, and what is being done to change the situation.”

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