On Monday, the Arizona Cardinals announced they hired Dr. Jen Welter, the first female coach in the NFL.O
Welter will work with the team’s inside linebackers, coaching throughout training camp and the preseason as an intern.
Welter played 14 seasons of professional football in the Women’s Football Alliance and holds a master’s degree in sports psychology and a doctorate in psychology. She has also won two gold medals for Team USA in the International Federation of American Football Women’s World Championship in both 2010 and 2013.
Welter joins a handful of coaches in the “big four” sports in North America. On that list is Becky Hammon, a CSU graduate, who is the head coach of the San Antonio Spurs. Hammon recently lead the Spurs to the Las Vegas Summer League title this summer.
She hasn’t been the only woman to join the NFL this year; Sarah Thomas is the first female official in the NFL, and will be a line judge for the 2015 season.
There have been some reservations about whether a woman can truly lead an NFL team, especially since none of them have ever played in the NFL. A point has also been made some of the greatest NFL coaches, such as Vince Lombardi, have not either, but were able to lead their teams to victory.
However, the response of this decision made by head coach Bruce Arians has been overwhelmingly positive. Many are commending this decision as it’s beginning to allow women to break into what has traditionally been an all-male industry.
“There’s a lot of work to do, and that’s what I’m here to do. It’s exciting to show not only women and girls, but pretty much everyone that anything is possible. Thankfully, the Cardinals support this,” says Welter.