Meet the NFL's First Woman Coach

She’s the first woman to ever coach in the NFL. Now, Dr. Jen Welter is looking to change the way both boys and girls think about gender in sports. 🏈

Unisex sports integration may be long overdue

Dr. Jen Welter doesn’t just want to be known as the first woman to coach in the NFL. She wants to be a role model for girls in sports and show all kids how to move past the stereotypes of the past. After playing for 15 years, Welter joined the coaching staff of the Arizona Cardinals in 2015, before working with the Australian women’s national team, and the Atlanta Legends of the AAF. Welter now heads both unisex and girls-only camps to teach kids how to play football.

7 out of 10 girls who quit sports during puberty say they didn’t feel like they belonged in sports. 67% said they felt society didn’t encourage girls to play according to the Women’s Sports Foundation. “I remember being enchanted by the game of football. And I always wanted to play and unfortunately it was actually the first place in this world that somebody told me there was a difference between what girls could do and boys could do. Humbly, I was one of the best players in the world and it never crossed my mind that I could find a career coaching football because at that time there were no women on the sidelines that I could look at and say I want to be her,” says Coach Jen Welter.

Welter says this societal block on women in sports happens at the highest of levels. There have been no women inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. To most fans, that’s not surprising: There’s never been a woman who’s played in the NFL, after all. Coaching platitudes still suggest the sport is a way to “separate the men from the boys” — a cliché that has its roots on the battlefield, which has, ironically, accepted women more readily than the gridiron.