Arizona Cardinals Hire Jen Welter, First Female To Hold Coaching Position In NFL History
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. YES.
On Monday the Arizona Cardinals announced that Jen Welter, a female American football player, will join their summer coaching staff. According to the Arizona Cardinals website, Welter is believed to be the first woman to hold a coaching position of any kind in the NFL. The position is for training camp/preseason as an intern coaching inside linebackers and while it may be a temporary role, it is a historical hire and sets the bar for the NFL to continue to grow more inclusive.
Welter's hire comes on the heels of San Antonio Spurs' assistant coach Becky Hammon becoming the first female head coach in the NBA Summer League and then leading her team to win the 2015 Summer League title.
Whether Hammon's well-received success in the NBA influenced the Cardinals' decision to include a female on their summer coaching staff is unclear, but it's certainly now part of a growing trend of recognizing the skills and knowledge that female athletes can contribute to men's professional sports.
Like Hammon, Welter is not just a student of the game but an experienced American football player herself; and this is not her first time making history. As a player she was part of the gold medal-winning Team USA at the International Federation of American Football's Women's World Championship in 2010 and 2013. She was also the first woman to play men's professional football. She followed that up with becoming the first female coach in men's professional football when she joined the coaching staff of the Texas Revolution, an arena football team from Dallas.
Welter was brought to Cardinals Head Coach Bruce Arians' attention by the coach of the Revolution, shortly after he was asked in March about the possibility of female coaches in the NFL. Arians said at the time, “The minute they can prove they can make a player better, they’ll be hired." On Monday after the news broke, the Cardinals website quoted Arians in regards to his hiring of Welter.
“Coaching is nothing more than teaching,” Arians said. “One thing I have learned from players is, ‘How are you going to make me better? If you can make me better, I don’t care if you’re the Green Hornet, man, I’ll listen.’ I really believe she’ll have a great opportunity with this internship through training camp to open some doors for her.”
Welter has made history multiple times now and it's hard to imagine anything stopping her from continuing to do so, but this opportunity definitely has the potential to fast-track her to further historical achievements. If I were a betting woman I'd say that this shot at coaching in the NFL will not be Welter's last.
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