The stigma that women and sports don’t mesh is slowly, but surely beginning to fade into a speck of ignorance, as the world is seeing more women filling positions of authority in professional sports.
First, we saw Becky Hammon become the first head coach of an NBA summer league team, not to mention lead the San Antonio Spurs to the summer league championship. Hammon is even garnering serious attention from people all over the league, debating whether or not she is fit for an official coaching job in the NBA. Now, the Arizona Cardinals are following in similar footsteps, hiring who is believed to be the first female coaching intern ever in the NFL.
Her name is Jen Welter and this won’t be her first time in the spotlight. Prior to this gig with the Cardinals, she was the first woman to coach in professional football as part of the Texas Revolution in the Indoor Football league, where she was also the first woman to play a non-kicking position on a men’s team. Bulldozing through historical barriers just seems to be her thing.
As an intern, Welter will be working with the inside linebackers in training camp and preseason, and she certainly has the credentials to do so. She played professional football for more than 14 years, spending most of her career with the Dallas Diamond’s of the Women’s Football Alliance as a linebacker.
Cardinals head coach, Bruce Arians, who was asked earlier in the year when the NFL would see a female coach, said that he “thought she was the type of person that could handle this in a very positive way for women and open that door.”
He also added that gender should not be the determining factor regarding whether or not someone can coach, but rather the ability to coach. He told azcardinals.com, that coaching is about being able to make the players better.
“If you can make me better, I don’t care if you’re the Green Hornet, I’ll listen.”
The hire is a win for everybody around the league and the sports world in general. Most obviously it is another victory for Welter in her mission for progression, but for the Cardinals and Arians, the breaking of gender barrier brings excellent publicity, and for women who have ever been discouraged, it provides them with hope and a reason to keep pushing forward.