Jennifer Welter participates in a drill during practice, Feb. 13, 2014, in Allen, Texas. 
Photo by Cal Sport Media/AP

Arizona Cardinals hire first female coach in NFL history: Jen Welter


The Arizona Cardinals just made one of the biggest splashes of the NFL off-season.

Dr. Jen Welter, a collegiate rugby player who played 14 seasons of pro football in the Women’s Football Alliance, was picked by head coach Bruce Arians as a training camp intern to coach the teams linebackers, becoming the first women to hold a coaching position in the history of the NFL.

“Coaching is nothing more than teaching,” Arians said in a statement Monday. “I really believe she’ll have a great opportunity with this internship through training camp to open some doors for her.”

Despite not having any ties to the NFL, Welter has an extremely long history with football. A graduate of Boston College with a master’s in sport psychology and a PhD in psychology, Welter became the first woman to play in men’s professional football game in a non-kicker position in 2014 when she took the field for the Texas Revolution – a team in the Indoor Football League. After her debut, she went on to be an assistant coach for the Revolution.  

Welter is also a two-time gold medal winner playing for Team USA in the International Federation of American Football Women’s World Championship in 2010 and 2013.

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The Cardinals announcement comes at a time where women are becoming more involved in men’s professional sports. Just last year, the San Antonio Spurs made Becky Hammon, a former WNBA All-Star, an assistant head coach of the team. Hammon most recently led the Spurs to the NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League championship and is now gaining traction around the NBA as a “serious” head coaching candidate.

Also earlier this year, Sarah Thomas was named the first full-time female official in NFL history after refereeing for 19 years – eight of them in college football with the Conference USA.

In a tweet Monday night, Welter said she was “honored” to be a part of the Cardinals.

Welter’s first game as a coach will be on August 15th when the Cardinals take on the Kansas City Chiefs in the first preseason game.

NFL and Sports

Arizona Cardinals hire first female coach in NFL history: Jen Welter