Mill Valley teachers hired as district’s first female football coaches

French teacher Michelle McRay and social studies teacher Melissa Weber coach seventh grade football at Monticello Trails Middle School

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Ian Chern and Gabby Delpleash

Mill Valley teachers Melissa Weber and Michelle McRay both coach the Monticello Trails Middle School 7th grade boys football team. Both have overcome gender barriers and coach in a male- dominated sport.

Coach Melisa Weber stands on the sidelines during a middle school football game Wednesday, August 31. (By Kai Tolly)

Weber teaches social studies and has always loved the sport of football, this is her first experience coaching the sport. 

“Monticello is right next door and [social studies teacher Cory Wurtz] gave me the idea to coach [at Monticello]. He is persuasive so I can always ask him for advice,” Weber said. 

Although this is Weber’s first football coaching experience, she has coached other sports before. She coached cross country in her previous school district.

McRay teaches French and coaches girls wrestling. Like Weber, also this is McRay’s first time coaching the sport.

“[Mill Valley football coach Joel Applebee] told me about the job. He asked me if it’s something I would be interested in and I had just thought about it. I was actually recommended by [principal Dr. Gail Holder] for the position,” McRay said.

Both coaches are excited and are constantly learning. They have unique coaching styles that they implement into their practices and noticed by the players, like 7th grade football player Lucas Pennel. 

“I guess they treat us more like humans than the male coaches,” Pennel said.

Coach Michelle McRay blows her whistle during middle school football practice Tuesday, September 8. (By Kai Tolly)

“I’m less technical with [my team]. I’m more worried about their behaviors, and since I’m still learning so much, I would say I’m more concerned with their behavior,” McRay said. 

Weber and McRay overcame the gender barrier and believe having a female coaching perspective is just as important as a male perspective.

“I think having a female perspective when coaching shows both men and women that anyone can do this job. Developing young student athletes and coaching them shouldn’t be something that is separated by gender and I think people are finally starting to realize just how much women can add to the development of athletes,” McRay said.

Weber and McRay both started coaching football around the same time and enjoy experiencing it together.

“[Coaching with McRay] makes me feel better to know we’re equal and on the same page so we can ask each other questions,” Weber said.

Weber and McRay have both learned important lessons from coaching football.

“All of the growth and development aspects and trying to build successful young people, worldly citizens or whatever you want to call it. That’s the hard part,” McRay said.

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