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When there’s progress in sports, that changes the game for athletes everywhere. That’s why we were cheering when the National Football League (not exactly the poster organization for women’s rights) announced the hiring of Jen Welter as the training camp/preseason intern for the Arizona Cardinals, making her the first female coach in the league’s history. Whether you are versed in the language of linebackers or not, a push toward equality is something to cherish. Here are a few reasons even non-football-watching runners should dig the Cardinal’s new coach.
1. Jen Welter has been breaking boundaries for years. A former college rugby player, Welter made history in 2014 year when the Texas Revolution signed her as the first female running back on a “men’s” pro team. Earlier this year, she graduated from player to coach for the same team, making her the first female to earn this title in professional football.
2. “Is that all you’ve got?” In a game with the Revolution, 5’ 2” 130-pound Welter was pummeled during her first carry by 6’ 4” 245-pound player Cedric Hearvey. “I didn’t want them to think I was intimidated,” said Welter, so she responded with the above quote.
3. She rolls with it. As an athlete for the Revolution, Welter, as the only woman, had no female player’s locker room. When she had to use the cheerleader’s locker room to prepare before games, she told the Dallas Morning News she accepted their hair-braiding assistance and let the squad dust her with some glitter.
4. Leadership grows athletes. Welter is the first female coach in professional football—but in running, the climate isn’t much better. This year, only one of the coaches in the top-25 NCAA ranked track and field programs was female—and that was for women’s teams. For girls to grow into positions of power, it’s crucial for them to be able to see themselves in their role models. Here’s to when announcements like Jen Welter’s hiring stops being news!