The Arizona Cardinals caught the attention of athletes and feminists everywhere when head coach Bruce Arians announced that the newest member of his team is a woman. Dr. Jen Welter was hired to join the linebackers coaching staff.
Welter will work with the Cardinals inside linebackers as an assistant coaching intern for training camp and the preseason, ESPN reports. She is believed to be the first female coach ever in the nearly-100-year-old league.
Welter, 37, is a seasoned professional football player, spending 14 years as a linebacker in the Women's Football Alliance, mostly with the Dallas Diamonds. She led them to four championships.
Earlier this year, she was hired by the Texas Revolution of the Indoor Football League as a linebackers and special teams coach, making history as the first fame coach in a men's professional football league. Last year, she was the first female to play a position in a men's professional football league when the Revolution played her as running back on special teams.
Welter, who was born in Vero Beach, Fla., has a life of experience in and around football, not unlike most coaching staffers. Underscoring the idea that breaking barriers often requires underrepresented groups to be better than the status quo hires is the fact that Welter has a PhD in psychology from Boston University.
"Coaching is nothing more than teaching," Arians said on the Cardinal's website announcing the notable hire. "One thing I have learned from players is, 'How are you going to make me better? I don't care if you're the Green Hornet, man, I'll listen.' I really believe she'll have a great opportunity with this internship through training camp to open some doors for her."
Bringing in females to one of the most male-dominated corporations in the U.S. can only be good things for other women and girls. If the Cardinals can do it, the rest of the NFL—and other male-dominated industries—can't be too far behind.