Meet Jen Welter: First female coach in a professional football league

Meet Jen Welter: First female coach in a professional football league

As part of our #WomenInNFL blog series, we showcase the incredible females who led the way for women in the league, and this week I’d like you to meet Jen Welter.

Who is Jen Welter

Jen is an American football player and coach who was most recently a defensive specialist for the Atlanta Legends of the Alliance of American Football. She coached inside linebackers for the Arizona Cardinals during their training camp and the 2015 preseason. The signing with the Arizona Cardinals made her the first female coach in the NFL.

Tyrann Mathieu, the “Honey Badger,” took a liking to her after they exchanged stories about their nicknames (hers was “Spider Monkey). Her stint working in sports was short-lived since it was just a preseason internship, but she left a big mark.

How it all started

Jen is a veteran of several women’s professional and semi-professional football teams (including the Dallas Diamonds and Dallas Dragons). She was a gold medal-winning member of Team USA at the IFAF Women’s World Championship in 2010 and 2013.

In 2014, she joined the Texas Revolution, a professional indoor American football team. Her first action as a running back came during a preseason game on February 15, 2014, against the North Texas Crunch. Jen rushed for three carries for −1 yards and was later named in their regular season roster. One year later, the Revolution introduced Jen as their new line backers and special teams coach. She is the first woman to coach in a men’s professional football league.

Five months later, the Arizona Cardinals hired Jen as an assistant coaching intern for training camp and the preseason; as such, she is believed to be the first female coach in the NFL. Her internship with the Cardinals expired after the team’s third preseason game.

Check out this interview where she walks about becoming the first female coach in the NFL:

Three years later, Jen was hired by the Atlanta Legends of the newly-formed Alliance of American Football as a defensive specialist under head coach Brad Childress. However, the league failed after just a couple of months.

What is Jen Welter up to now?

Jen is on a mission to demonstrate how we can change culture through football and change the way both boys and girls think about gender in sport. She is also working with Adidas on a flag football national tour through America for young girls and women aged between 6 and 18.

You can follow Jen’s progress through Twitter at @jwelter47. I’m excited to see the next few months of Jen’s journey.

Liz Bhandari

Liz has covered the NFL for five seasons, and currently serves as Managing Editor for Ninety-Nine Yards and for her own website, NFLGirlUK.com. Since launching the website in 2014, she has made regular appearances on the TalkSport2 ‘All American Sports Show’ with Nat Coombs and in 2016 was ranked No.37 (of 400+) in the “Super Bowl: Top 50 UK Influencers” by marketing software producers Analytica for “igniting conversations” between fans.

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