Jen Welter has been hired as a new assistant coach with the Arizona Cardinals, making her the first female ever to hold a coaching position in the NFL.
Bruce Arians, the team’s head coach, received a tip from the coach of the Indoor Football League's Texas Revolution telling him that he might be interested in Welter, who played collegiate-level rugby in addition to 14 seasons of pro-women’s football, to coach linebackers.
At a NFL owners meeting in March, Arians said he would be willing to take on a female coach “the minute they can prove they can make a player better, they’ll be hired,” azcardinals.com reported.
And when Arians met Welter, he was impressed with her long list of achievements. Welter not only has a master’s in sport psychology and a PhD in psychology, but she has also won two gold Team USA medals in the International Federation of American Football Women’s World Championships in 2010 and 2013.
“She came for an OTA and I met her, and I thought she was the type of person that could handle this in a very positive way for women and open that door,” Arians admitted, according to azcardinals.com. The team was also “very cool with it” and Arians is confident that having a female coach is “not going to be a distraction in any way.”
“Coaching is nothing more than teaching . . . 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,’" he said. "I really believe she’ll have a great opportunity with this internship through training camp to open some doors for her.”
The team celebrated their new coach via Twitter on Monday:
Welter also took to Twitter to express her excitement over her new job:
Welter became the first female NFL coach just months after Sarah Thomas assumed the role of the first full-time female NFL official in April.
"I don't feel that it's been harder for me because I'm a female," said Thomas when she was in line for the position, ABC News reported
. "I think that we are just out here working as officials . . . I think just on our credentials, just as officials, I think that's what moves us along, not because of our gender or our race."
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