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Breaking Through: Introducing Stats Perform’s Series on Women in Sport

By: Mike Morrison

To honour International Women’s Day this Sunday and Women’s History Month throughout March, Stats Perform will be publishing a series of features on women who have broken down barriers and earned key off-field performance roles across different sports.

This series will chronicle each of their journeys from how they first developed a connection to the sport to how they broke through to work within a male-dominated industry. We’ll reveal some of the struggles they’ve overcome, as well as some of the highlights they’ve enjoyed along the way.

They’ll also offer some advice for women looking to kick-start a career in sport. Here are some of the women we’ll be highlighting in this series, which begins next week:

Jennifer King – Full-Year Coaching Intern, Washington Redskins

King served as a coaching intern with the Carolina Panthers and an offensive assistant on Dartmouth’s 2019 Ivy League championship team but had found it difficult to work in the NFL because of the lack of representation before pioneers like Kathryn Smith and Katie Sowers gave her the confidence to push forward. Now, King is helping the Redskins prepare for the NFL Draft and free agency.

“I have been fortunate to have great experiences at all of my stops along the way,” King says. “But obviously in this country, the numbers tell us women are still struggling not just in sports but in the workplace in general when it comes to equality.”

Amber Luzar – Lead Performance Analyst & Technical Lead, England & Great Britain Hockey

With the Olympics around the corner, Luzar has embraced a busy schedule since taking up her roles across both the men’s and women’s teams alongside the challenges of being an analyst in a male-dominated environment. She experienced the rewards of such hard work in 2016 with the gold medal-winning women’s hockey team.

“The old school way of thinking is slowly dying out,” Luzar says. “Sport is no longer a man’s world like it once was, and the benefits of a balanced performance team is now largely recognised.”

Lucy Rushton – Head of Technical Recruitment & Performance Analysis, Atlanta United FC

Upon her arrival in 2016, Rushton played an integral role in identifying players that met Atlanta United’s recruitment criteria for their inaugural MLS season in 2017. These days, Rushton spends a lot of her time pouring over Stats Perform’s Opta data for team and player insights as part of what has become a complex analysis role in men’s football.

“Everywhere you look, there are examples of more women being actively engaged in the game – female commentators, female presenters/pundits, female columnists and sportswriters,” Rushton says. “Ultimately this is only going to continue to make the presence of women in the game seem less obscure, and in doing so, encourage more women into the game.”

Natalie Doyle – Performance Analyst, Surrey CCC

On a cricket club that values both tracking and data analysis, Doyle played a key role in helping the coaching staff implement informed strategies during Surrey’s 2018 County Championship run. She’s also ready to tackle the challenges women face while trying to balance a career in elite sport alongside being a mum.

“I did find it slightly daunting to go on maternity leave and stop working,” Doyle says. “Being an analyst has been a huge part of my identity and (I’ve worked) so hard to get in the role I am currently in.”