Meet The NFL's First Female Asst. Coach

by Lauren Barbato

The NFL is back in the news, and this time, it's for a good cause. The Arizona Cardinals have just hired Jen Welter, making her the first female coach in NFL history. A former rugby and women's pro football player, Welter will be a training camp/preseason intern coach and work predominantly with Cardinals linebackers, the team confirmed Monday.

While many NFL fans out there will probably cry out, "A woman? Coaching? Seriously?!" it's no wonder Welter got the job — she has quite the impressive resume. In addition to her 14 years playing women's pro football, Welter holds a doctorate degree in psychology, as well as a master's degree in sports psychology, according to the Arizona Cardinals' official website. Welter also has two gold medals as a member of Team USA in the International Federation of American Football Women’s World Championship.

"I really believe [Welter will] have a great opportunity with this internship through training camp to open some doors for her," Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said on his team's official website. "I thought she was the type of person that could handle this in a very positive way for women and open that door."

The NFL confirmed in a celebratory tweet Monday night that Welter will indeed be the first woman to be a coach in the league.

Arians, who was named Head Coach of the Year in 2014 by the Associated Press, seems to take a very forward-thinking approach in his hiring — and we love that. The Cardinals head coach said on his team's website that he hopes Welter will open doors for more women coaches in the future. "I believe very strongly in it,” Arians said.

This has been an exciting time for American women in sports, especially after the U.S. women's national soccer team clinched its third World Cup title and Serena Williams won her 21st Grand Slam match. On the coaching and referee side, women have been making strides in notoriously male-dominated positions. In April, the NFL hired Sarah Thomas as the league's first female full-time official.

And in the NBA, gender barriers have already been broken. In early July, San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon — who became the first woman to hold a full-time coaching position in the NBA — was made head coach of the team's Summer League. On July 20, Hammon skillfully coached the team to a Summer League title. What can we say? Sometimes a woman is the best one for the job.

Image: Arizona Cardinals/Facebook