March 10th, 2023
Celebrating Women’s History Month: Corin “Cori” Coffey
Women in tennis can offer a different perspective on the sport and Brevard County’s Corin “Cori” Coffey brings just that to every life she impacts through her coaching and volunteering
Cori grew up around tennis and picked up her first racket when she was just four years old. “I was just around it all the time and then I really fell in love with it,” she said.
She would play throughout her childhood and ended up going to a Division II school, Clarion University, in Pennsylvania, where she played on the tennis team for all four years.
After playing, she moved to Florida and got involved with USTA Florida Leagues. This led her to a path that she hadn’t really considered, coaching. “One of my friends asked me, why I wasn’t coaching, and I was like, that’s a good question because I took some lessons when I was in college and I always loved it.”
It transpired into her coming out to help one of her friends, who was a high school head coach at the time. Luckily, he needed an assistant coach, so Cori jumped at this chance to get her foot in the door. “He asked me to come out and hit against the line one boy’s player,” she recalled. “That coach left the next year, and I ended up taking over and it all just kind of fell into placed for when I wanted to start coaching.”
Today, she is the Head Coach of the Boys’ Tennis team at Titusville High School, where she has been doing that for eight years now. Despite being a woman coaching boys, Cori has found it to be the best part of her day. “I’ve been around a really great group of kids and families that have been super respectful and very open to me coming in,” she said. “Some people are surprised and say, ‘you’re a girl on the boys’ team’ but by establishing relationships, being confident in my own skills, and knowledge that I’ve built over the years [is key].”
Confidence is super important to Cori as she knows what she is capable of, and that energy rubs off on the players that she coaches. When she isn’t coaching high school, Cori can be found volunteering with the local Junior Team Tennis (JTT) players in Brevard.
“JTT has given me the opportunity to coach not only my kids, but some of the female players that I am not with as often.” Cori wants to be an inspiration to younger girls and show them that they can accomplish anything in tennis if they put their heart to it.
“I just really love tennis, I love the sport and I love introducing kids to it that maybe didn’t have it growing up. We get a lot of kids that are just starting tennis and I love seeing their enthusiasm, finding the sport for the first time because it reminds me of why I fell in love with it after training for so many years,” Cori said. “Coaching these kids reminded me why I love this for and seeing kids fall in love with it and seeing my kids now over time that I’ve coached, still playing this lifetime sport. I love it.”
What is your message to girls and women to get involved with tennis
Growing the game of tennis is important to everyone, and Cori, being a women coach, wants to inspire more women of all ages to get out and try tennis and one day even coach it. “Put yourself out there, even if it’s scary, just try it,” she said. “Just put yourself in that position to volunteer and maybe just do that at first. Put in a little bit of time and I think you’re going to get so much out of it, because working with these kids and even just promoting tennis is wonderful. But even better, you’re going to be involved in their lives. You’re going to be involved in a thing that is super important to them.”
Cori says that seeing is believing and showing these younger girls that women can be coaches, industry leaders, tournament directors, and volunteers can really motivate them and put a smile on their faces.
“Kindness is a strength. You don’t have to be the tough and mean coach. I think it’s easy to try to do that as women, to think you have to suppress any emotions and be super tough to be respected,” she said. “You can be firm and strong, but still be empathetic and show that you care and be who you are. It’s more genuine that way, and your athletes or anyone else you are leading can see that.”
Why is it important that we celebrate Women’s History Month
Cori referenced the great Billie Jean King, when asked about the importance of Women’s History Month. “I read the autobiography that she put out, and knowing about the battle that women went through to be put on the same type of tour, to get any sort of prize money and then eventually to make equal prize money, and still ongoing, it’s really important that we know.”
She said there are so many women and girls that have poured their heart and soul into the sport and had to break barriers to get where the sport is today. While there are still more steps that need to be made, Cori said it’s great to see other tournaments start to change to an equal prize pool for both men and women.
“I think it’s super important to understand that, to have an appreciation of the women’s game and all the people that came before us to get us here.” Tennis has shaped Cori’s life and she is making sure to shape the future of the sport, whether through coaching, volunteering, or advocating.