In 2015, every girls’ high school soccer program in Lexington was led by a male head coach.
In 2018, female head coaches lead more than half — five of nine, to be precise.
“It’s really exciting,” said Tates Creek’s Ally Tucker, a former assistant for Bo Lankster who switched roles with him in 2016. “When I was growing up playing, there were almost no female coaches. We didn’t have that visual out there for people to see. My dad was a coach, and so, I always knew that’s what I wanted to do, but I didn’t see a lot of people like me in the field.”
There, of course, have been many female head coaches in soccer and other sports everywhere over the years. Volleyball, a girls-only sport in Kentucky, is dominated by female head coaches in Lexington with seven total. In basketball, however, just two of nine Lexington programs are run by women. Statewide, women run about one-third of high school girls’ soccer programs
“I think it’s absolutely great for the sport,” said Lankster. “I think players need those strong female models. That’s a given. It’s about confidence. It’s about the coach having the confidence to step into that role. All these women that are doing it in Lexington, they all have that trait.”
Taylor Roden took over Lafayette in 2016. Last year, Frederick Douglass tapped former Lexington Catholic assistant Megan Adkins to found the Broncos program. And this year, Casey Greer took the reins at Lexington Christian, while Paul Laurence Dunbar hired Megan Poage.
“We’re going to run these boys out of town,” joked Adkins. “I’m just kidding … . It’s pretty awesome to see here in the city that all these women are doing such good things.”
Poage is the youngest of the group at 24, but got a jump start on her varsity head-coaching career at Scott County last year when the previous head coach abruptly resigned just before the season started.
After going 8-11-3, Scott County looked elsewhere. So did Poage. What she found was a dream come true. She brought her former Tates Creek teammate, Arly Lankster (Bo’s daughter), along for the ride as one of her assistants.
“These opportunities don’t come often,” said Poage who was a senior at Tates Creek in 2011. Arly Lankster was a junior then. “I’m extremely happy to have this opportunity. To bring on Arly is just an extra reward for the girls. Being able to say that we played together in high school, knowing her dad’s background … to be able to start her career with her is awesome.”
That’s one of the advantages the female coaches believe they have. They all played at a high level in Kentucky. Four of the five played in what is now the girls’ 11th Region.
Roden is a Dunbar grad who went on to Georgetown College. Greer played for the team she now coaches and went on to Asbury. Adkins played for LexCath and was signed by West Virginia. Tucker played for her father, Cy Tucker, at South Oldham before moving on to Transylvania. (Cy Tucker happens to be the state’s career wins leader in girls’ soccer).
“(We’ve) been through the same process. We know how our minds work,” said Poage, who went on to play at Southern Indiana. “We know the little things we go through on a day-to-day basis. Just being able to connect with them in that way is, I think, extremely beneficial for the girls and for the team.”
Terry Quigley took on the girls’ soccer program at Lexington Catholic 27 years ago, a time when the very first women’s World Cup was played and girls’ soccer was not yet a KHSAA sanctioned sport.
“Twenty-seven years ago, the club coaches and the parents who coached became the (high school) coaches everywhere. I had been the head coach of the boys and moved away and come back and became the head coach of the girls,” Quigley said. “Now, 27 years later, with all the club development … those girls are ready. It is the trend and I think it should be the trend. I’m not saying that men shouldn’t coach girls, but I think the girls need to look up to somebody to say ‘look what they’re doing.’ And I think it’s good to have women be the leaders. It’s going in the right direction.”