There has been significant progress for women coaches and referees in the NFL in recent years, although it has been long overdue.
According to recent statistics, as of the 2023-2024 season, a record-breaking 15 women are now serving as coaches. The presence of women coaches from diverse backgrounds on one of the world’s largest professional sports platforms is crucial for promoting diversity in the sport.
American football is undeniably one of the most beloved sports in America and holds the highest popularity among fans. This sport attracts a wide range of fans, including many women. It is important to acknowledge and continuously increase the number of female coaches in the NFL each year as a means of celebration and expansion.
Jen Welter: Breaking the First Barrier
In 2015, Jen Welter made history as the first woman in a coaching position in the NFL. Initially starting as a training camp intern for the Arizona Cardinals, she later took on the role of a defensive specialist for the Atlanta Legends of the Alliance of American Football (AAF) in 2019.
Welter’s journey into NFL coaching was not intentional, but once she secured the position, she was determined to pave the way for other women in the field.
Although she hasn’t coached in the NFL since her time with the Arizona Cardinals, there have been significant advancements. Presently, 15 women serve as full-time assistants in the league, and even Katie Sowers was part of Kyle Shanahan’s coaching staff for the San Francisco 49ers in the 2019 Super Bowl.
Currently, Welter serves as a linebackers coach for the Vegas Vipers of the XFL. She has achieved the prestigious honor of being a two-time gold medalist in the women’s World American Football Championships.
Welter Recognizing Tom Brady’s Backing of Women’s Sports
According to the NFL’s first female coach, Dr. Jen Welter, Tom Brady’s recent venture into the WNBA will unlikely be his final foray into women’s sports.
Welter, who shattered the league’s gender barrier as a coaching intern, thinks that Brady will continue to be involved in women’s sports beyond his latest investment in the Aces.
She asserts that Brady’s decision to invest in the Aces sets a new trend among former athletes and demonstrates his forward-thinking approach.
While women’s determination and hard work in football will be the primary reason behind their continued position in the sport, the help of others, especially legends such as Brady, is huge!
Women in Coaching, Women Everywhere
Women are becoming more prominent in coaching positions, as evidenced by the 2022 NFL season. With 15 female coaches, there has been a 25% increase compared to the previous season. This achievement sets a new precedent regarding women’s involvement in coaching roles.
Furthermore, Super Bowl 57 at State Farm Stadium saw Autumn Lockwood, the sports conditioning coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, make history as the first Black woman to coach in a Super Bowl. Lockwood is currently employed by the Eagles as an assistant sports performance coach, having joined the organization in August of 2022. Before that, she had held positions as a director and coordinator at the University of Houston and East Tennessee State University and completed internships with the Atlanta Falcons and sportswear powerhouse Nike.
Coaching roles aren’t the lone positions that should be singled out regarding women in football. Statistics show that football has never owned such a high percentage of female fans; this trickles out into multiple sectors, like bookmakers receiving wagers from women with sportsbook promo codes, women’s attendance at games, and the involvement of younger females in the sport.
The Future Looks Bright
Pam Baker is a prime example of how women in a male-dominated role is becoming a thing of the past.
The Women’s Coaching Alliance, spearheaded by Baker, has successfully transformed 59 young girls from high schools and colleges in the San Francisco area into youth coaches for recreational sports such as football, soccer, basketball, and cross-country within the past year.
A rising senior, Maya Pappas, is among the athletes who experienced the trickle-down effect. She aspires to establish WCA chapters at Aragon High School and also wishes to commence coaching youth sports within the WCA network starting this autumn.
The future of women in professional coaching roles is bright, and with the NFL’s dedication to shattering barriers and advancing gender equality in coaching positions, it’s a source of inspiration for those aspiring to be coaches and athletes.