The Arizona Cardinals hired Jen Welter as a preseason intern coach, and she’s the first woman coach of any kind in the NFL.
Welter – earning it on merit
While this is a temporary gig, Welter is hardly the intern grabbing coffee and making copies. She’s gotten strong reviews from Cardinals players (she helps coach the linebackers) who praise her knowledge and balance of intensity without trying too hard (a common problem for first time coaches). According to her Wikipedia bio, Welter played rugby at Boston College and had a brief stint playing football professionally as a running back in the Indoor Football League, so she’s got a football pedigree.
Extra awesome that this is football we’re talking about
Diversity in sports should be celebrated everywhere, but breaking through the glass ceiling (retractable roof?) in pro football is especially refreshing. Women have succeeded as coaches in a number of men’s sports, most recently in basketball where former-WNBA star Becky Hammon is an assistant coach for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs and coached their summer league team to a championship in July.
But the fact that Welter is coaching pro football is remarkable! In soccer and basketball the game translates logically from women’s to men’s, and softball and baseball share similar fundamentals and strategies, so we’d expect to see pioneers in the coach/referee/analyst ranks in those sports well before America’s oblong national obsession. Welter is doing this on the back of football acumen and hard work – here’s to hoping she sticks around full time.