Advocating for Women's Sports

Christi Posey

My advocacy for women’s sports dates all the way back to middle school.

I vividly remember starting a petition at my school to get a girls’ basketball team up and running.

While my efforts were unsuccessful, this was the beginning of what’s become a lifetime of standing up for women’s athletics.

I’ve been around sports my entire life — in college, I played volleyball and softball for Wichita State and later softball only at Kansas.

Once I graduated from college, I was initially more than content coaching sports at the high school level in my small town of Halstead, Kansas. But as I kept coaching and growing more of a passion for the profession, I started to believe I could take this further.

I believed I could make an impact at the collegiate level.

I took that leap of faith and have spent the last 20+ years in the college ranks, including 12 years and counting as the head volleyball coach for UMKC.

It’s been the joy of my life to be affiliated with a sport I fell in love with as a little girl, but even more so than that, to have witnessed first-hand the triumphs of women’s sports throughout the years.

If I’ve played any role in improving the equality and overall empowerment of women in athletics, that’s what means the most to me.

And what keeps me coming back to the sidelines each year.

Coming home

I mentioned how I knew at some point I wanted to coach at the next level, but transitioning from high school to college was a more agonizing decision than you might think.

Due to the female athletes at our school and the resources in our community, we were having success at the high school level, and I was fortunate to lead quality athletes and tremendous resources in my high school career.

So when my alma mater contacted me to be an assistant coach for the KU women’s volleyball team in Lawrence, I had some mixed feelings.

Obviously, this was a rare opportunity for me to elevate my career, but at the same point in time, I had a pretty good gig where I was at.

I won’t dare say the amount, but by taking the job at KU, I’d be suffering a severe pay cut. It was a shockingly low salary, which is by no means a detriment to KU.

It just showed how far behind women’s athletics were compared to the men, even in the year 2000 when KU offered me the position.

We all make sacrifices for our professional growth and development, and I knew going to KU as an assistant was the only way I was going to be a head coach at the DI level one day.

I loved my time in Lawrence as a student, and I was beyond excited to come back home where it all started for me.

It’s been the joy of my life to be affiliated with a sport I fell in love with as a little girl, but even more so than that, to have witnessed first-hand the triumphs of women’s sports throughout the years.

A chance to lead

I think every coach who’s an assistant can relate to the fact that at some point, you’re ready to call the shots yourself.

It was my privilege being an assistant at KU in the Big 12 and competing against powerhouses like Nebraska and Texas, but I felt like I was ready for my opportunity to lead.

Ironically, I interviewed to be the UMKC head volleyball coach years earlier and didn’t get it.

When the job opened up again a few seasons later, I gave it another shot.

This time, I got it.

And now, I’ve been here ever since I was hired in 2011.

Since I’ve lived near the Kansas City area for the entirety of my athletic and coaching career, the goal has always been to tap into the resources and connections I’ve made and keep the homegrown talent here to play at UMKC.

It’s certainly been a challenge throughout the years as girls want to venture off and play in other areas of the country, but it’s been awfully rewarding to build a program and achieve success at a place that’s so near and dear to my heart.

Room for growth

Having spent 39 years coaching, including 22 years at the collegiate level, I’ve seen a vast number of improvements in women’s athletics.

What stands out the most is we now have more women in positions of power to advocate for equal opportunities and equity across the landscape of college athletics.

You don’t have to go that far back to realize that women athletic directors and university presidents were unheard of. To have these leaders in place, as well as like-minded male proponents, that have the power to fight our battles for us is a blessing in all the best ways.

With these changes in place, we’ve come incredibly far, but there’s always room for improvement.

As far as television and media exposure, for example, there seems to be an imbalance of sorts in regard to the recognition women’s sports receive compared to the men.

I can’t snap my fingers and magically change that, but I certainly can do everything in my power to build my team up to be strong, confident women that achieve success both on and off the court and are pillars in their community.

That’s what we set out to accomplish at UMKC, and we’re going to continue to work our tails off to garner the opportunities and recognition we’ve rightfully earned.

Maximizing gifts

With almost 40 years of coaching experience under my belt, you’d think I’d be slightly apathetic or tired of the stress, sleepless nights, recruiting, etc., but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I wake up each day so blessed and grateful to be able to do what I do for a living. This is a message I try to relay to my players as well.

Being a DI student-athlete is a gift.

Not everyone gets the opportunity to do this.

Between the day-to-day grind of training, practices, homework, etc., I think it’s easy to forget how special and unique it is to take the court each day, representing your university and community with the talents God gave you.

This isn’t something I ever want our players to forget.

I’m just as guilty as anyone in getting caught up in the wins and losses sometimes, but maximizing our talents to the best of our ability is what this whole thing’s all about.

As I continue to coach volleyball, my goal is to keep demonstrating my passion, compassion, and gratitude for a sport that I’ve carried with me for almost four decades — and we’re not done yet.