Clothing company Lululemon recognized Thomas as part of its campaign to make women's equality part of the global consciousness.
It’s International Women’s Day, so let’s discuss a male football coach?
“I agree. Why me?” Garfield football coach Joey Thomas said when asked if he was surprised to be highlighted on a day designated to celebrated women globally.
Lululemon actually sought Thomas out for his yearlong work uplifting women. The clothing company’s campaign is tagged “The Other 364” and launched Friday, which is International Women’s Day. In January, Thomas and his three sons (he also has a daughter) participated in a photo shoot outfitted in Lululemon gear and Thomas has a cameo in their promotional video.
A representative at the company knew of Thomas’ work in 2017 with Rebecca Milliman of Harborview’s Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress Center. Thomas taught a season-long course with his football players regarding healthy relationships with women. The lesson plan was provided by Coaching Boys Into Men (CBIM), a prevention program that trains and motivates high-school coaches to teach their athletes healthy relationship skills and that violence never equals strength, according to its website.
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“We believe both men and women have a role to play in the fight for gender equality,” a spokeswoman for Lululemon said via email. “Joey Thomas was selected because he has an incredible message for both men and women. … International Women’s Day is one day of the year that prompts people to post and act, but it’s the people that are working the other 364 days that will get us to gender equality. We’re highlighting the people who are in the work of gender equality every day and supporting and educating our guests in the ways they can act in their daily lives.”
Most of Thomas’ work to promote gender equality is through his full-time job as a teacher at Garfield. But he does seek women to add to his coaching staff and once had a girl play for him, which is a growing trend in football. Emilia Allard was a sophomore defensive back on Ballard’s 2015 roster, Thomas’ last with the program.
As for the CBIM course, he’ll hold it again with his 2019 team.
“Emilia was tougher than some of the boys on our team and didn’t want to be treated differently,” said Thomas, who noted Allard played downs at corner back and was also on special teams.
“It’s just about advocating and fighting for our women,” Thomas continued. “Because I fight for kids, especially kids of color, our fight is the same fight. We’re all looking for equality.”