JEN WELTER, ARIZONA CARDINALS NEW ASSISTANT COACH
The glass ceiling has been smashed wide open with the announcement today of the hiring of Jen Welter, the NFL’s first female coach. Welter will be among seven assistant coaching interns to work with the Arizona Cardinals during training camp and preseason, coaching specifically the inside linebackers. Self-described on her LinkedIn page as “a football playing PhD,” Welter has and continues to make history in the football world.
Welter comes to Arizona from the Texas Revolution, a men’s professional indoor football league team, where she played running back and special teams in 2014. At 5-foot-2, 130 pounds, she became the first woman to play a non-kicking position in a men’s professional football league. She then signed on with the Revolution to work with linebackers and special teams in 2015, making her the first female coach in men’s professional football. Said Michael Strahan, former New York Giant, future Hall of Famer, and co-host of “Live with Kelly and Michael,” this morning, “She has more playing experience than a lot of male coaches out there.”
Welter’s braun is not without brains, however. Dr. Jen Welter has a master’s degree in Sports Psychology and a PhD in Psychology, both from Capella University.
In a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Welter appeared with Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians and was officially introduced as a Defensive Coaching Intern. “Our players only want to be taught how to get better, they don’t care where it comes from,” said Arians, who emphasized Welter’s experience, passion, and energy. When asked if she considers herself a trailblazer, Welter humbly said, “I could not have dreamed big enough that this day would come.”
Reflecting on her journey, Welter said, “I didn’t start to play football to be here. I think the beauty of it is that… now it’s a dream that other girls can have.” She continued, “We show little girls all the time to be beautiful, we show them to do it all the wrong ways. I want little girls to grow up knowing when they put their minds to something, when they work hard, they can do anything, even play football. The truth is if I can change the game, literally, for any of those girls, it’s worth it. Because it’s really not about me. It’s about them and the future of the sport.”
When asked about pushing boundaries, Welter said, “I like to say that the one thing I couldn’t do was listen and that’s why I made history.” Posing for cameras following the press conference, she held the Cardinals’ helmet and then put it on her head, joking “that would be the next dream.”
Cardinals players like cornerback Patrick Peterson, safety Tyrann Mathieu, linebacker Kevin Minter, and center AQ Shipley took to Twitter to welcome Welter. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Vice President Joe Biden also tweeted their congratulations.-Kristen Leen