Page 13 - CHSCA Magazine Issue 2, 2019-2020
P. 13

First Female High School
Football Coach in Connecticut
is Blazing Trails for Women
 By Lori Riley
Reprinted with permission from The Hartford Courant
Sometimes, the football players on the opposing team would think the woman on the sideline was the manager. Or they would approach her — she had to be the trainer, right? — to tape up their ankles.
“I was like, ‘Sorry, guys, uh, you’ve got to go to the trainer, not me,’” said Jennifer Stango Gar- zone, the first female head high school football coach in the state. “It happened more so in the begin- ning and not so much now.”
Garzone, an assistant football coach for seven years at Wolcott Tech, became the head coach of MCW United in February after for- mer coach Jamie Coty resigned. MCW United is a co-op team that encompasses Wolcott Tech in Tor- rington, Housatonic Regional High School in Canaan and Wamogo High in Litchfield.
“Football is probably always known to be not only a male sport, but kind of a man’s man sport — so for a woman to break the barriers down, so to speak ... but Jen’s not your typical woman,” said MCW assistant Damian Gwinn, who has known Garzone for four years. “She played football. She knows the game. She’s not just some ran- dom person, that there was nobody there and she was the only one available to take the job. She was
Jennifer Stango Garzone coaches MCW United, a co-op football team of Wolcott Tech, Housatonic Regional High School and Wamogo High.
 more than qualified for it.”
It’s not known how many female
head high school football coaches there are nationally, but Garzone, 35, is not the first. There have been female head high school coaches in Colorado, Florida, Wyoming and Tennessee. Dartmouth hired Callie Brownson as an assistant as the first full-time female coach in Division I football, and since, Brownson has become a full-time coaching intern with the Buffalo Bills.
Brownson went through the NFL’s Women’s Careers in Football Forum; both the NFL and NBA have been making an effort to hire wom- en in coaching positions.
“I think it’s fantastic,” said Ka- rissa Niehoff, the executive direc-
tor of National Federation of State High School Associations who was formerly the CIAC’s executive direc- tor. “Obviously, she brings semi-pro experience. Her knowledge of the game is superior. She commands respect from experiential perspec- tive.”
Garzone played football for a number of years with women’s teams, including the Hartford-area Connecticut Crush and the Danbury Wreckers.
Seven years ago, she became an assistant football coach at Wol- cott Tech, where she is a social stud- ies teacher and the girls basketball and softball coach. Wolcott Tech football merged with the other two schools four years ago.

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