Paving the way for women in football
C/O McMaster Sports
Amanda Ruller and Taylor MacIntyre discuss breaking barriers as the first women in Marauders football coaching staff history for Ontario University Athletics.
The McMaster football team has two new additions to their coaching staff: Amanda Ruller and Taylor MacIntyre. Ruller and MacIntyre joined as McMaster’s first female football coaches as part of a brand new women’s apprenticeship, designed to help increase diversity within coaching in football.
Ruller is the running back coach, the assistant strength and conditioning coach and she helps out with special teams (kicking plays); whereas MacIntyre works with the receivers and is the positional coach.
This is a significant opportunity for these two women, as coaching varsity football is no easy feat. Both coaches’ paths were rife with conflict, but neither of them gave up their passion for football.
“Don’t give up. With me, I’ve been pushed back so many times being told "I can’t do this, I’m too short, I’m not enough, or I’m a woman", in general and I said, "No, watch me. Watch me go",” explained Ruller.
MacIntyre echoed that statement by Ruller, discussing her experiences with football through high school and the difficulties she experienced along the way,
“High school boys aren’t always welcoming in football. As the first girl to complete a season at my high school, I really had to prove myself . . . as a girl, not just as a player. I had to prove that I could play, I had to prove my knowledge and my skills of the game and I had to prove my passion. I really try to let all of those things speak for [themselves],” said MacIntyre.
This apprenticeship was unique for yet another reason. To be successful in the sports industry, as explained by Ruller, one relies greatly on their connections and yet, this apprenticeship held applications and interviews.
“Coach Ptaszek [the Marauders football head coach] said this is the first time they did a formal interview with somebody ever,” explained Ruller.
Ruller and MacIntyre are incredibly grateful for the opportunity they’ve been given.
“This opportunity showed me that anything is possible thanks to McMaster University and McMaster football. Coaching football at a high level in Canada is possible for other girls and women and it’s really an honour to be a leader in that industry,” said MacIntyre.
The two coaches believe that this apprenticeship was not just important for their careers, but the careers of others.
“My goal is to have girls and women see the women’s football coaching apprenticeship program and know that they can dream of coaching in the OUA, U SPORTS, the CFL, or the NFL one day,” said MacIntyre. “I want girls to dream about coaching football at a high level in Canada and to believe and to know that there are opportunities available for them to be successful.”
Ruller shared an extremely similar perspective to MacIntyre in feeling that this was for a much greater cause, reiterating the importance of this role for future women in sports.
“It’s not just about me; it never is,” explained Ruller. “It’s about paving [the] way and inspiring a lot of women along the way because a lot of women are afraid to get into the industry . . . I want to eliminate that and ensure no woman has to be uncomfortable with applying or volunteering.”
Both coaches are excited for the first football game of the season, to be played on Sept.18 against the highly touted Western Mustangs.
“I feel like we’re very prepared, we’re such a strong team, we have a great mix of all the elements you need to be such a good team, very strong on both sides of the ball, and I can’t wait . . . We are going to crush it,” said Ruller.
Marauders football will kick off their season with their first game in over 18 months in a highly anticipated matchup against the Mustangs, whom they defeated in 2020 to win the Yates cup in the provincial championship, effectively ending the Mustangs’ 29 game winning streak against OUA opponents. It could become a very interesting season for the squad, with great opportunities on the horizon.