She made the history books last July when Arizona Cardinals NFL head coach Bruce Arians hired her be a preseason intern.
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“Our players only want to be taught how to be better, they really don’t care who teaches it to them,” he said at a July press conference.
Dr. Jen Welter, a 5’2”, 130-pound linebacker was already a seasoned player by the time she got called up to coach the pros. She also holds a master’s degree in sports psychology and a PhD in psychology.
“I know Bruce said that he loved the combination of my experience as a football player and my doctorate in psychology. He is someone who puts a lot into reading players,” Welter said during an interview with FOXBusiness.com.
Welter says she got the football bug early in life as a kid but didn’t have a chance to play until after college.
“When I started playing, it was like I knew where I was supposed to be in this world,” she adds.
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She went on to play over 14 years of professional football in the Women’s Football Alliance, won two gold metals for Team USA, and played as a running back for Indoor Football League’s Texas Revolution—a position that made her the first female to play a non-kicking position in a men’s professional football league--a role that her fellow players respected.
“As soon as they saw me jump in and coach on technique or offer football opinions, it was like she’s got this,” Welter told FOXBusiness.com. “It really showed a lot of people that the roughest, toughest, biggest and baddest men who played football in the NFL could take coaching from a woman.”
Welter’s internship ended this past August but she says she’s determined to get back in the game.
“I didn’t start playing football with dreams to be the first female coach in the NFL and now that it’s here I can’t really picture doing anything else.”
Kevin Minter, a linebacker for Arizona Cardinals tells FOXBusiness.com that Welter was “an amazing coach but even a better person.”
“She treated all of us with respect, and you always felt like she truly cared about you. To this day, she still checks on me to see how I’m doing and not just with football, but personally. I hate to say it, but coaches like that don’t come around too often,” he says.
Welter isn’t the only female making waves in the NFL. Earlier this year, Sarah Thomas was hired as the first full-time female official in NFL history.
“What we’re seeing now with all these groundbreaking women like Sarah Thomas, Becky Hammon and Nancy Lieberman coaching for the Kings is that it gives little girls another place to look and say ‘I want to be like her when I grow up.’”
Welter says dating can be one of the downsides of the job.
“The NFL is an intimidating entity within itself. So it’s a little tricky when you’re working with the best of the best all the time to be a guy on the outside could be a little for them I think. For me, I found that some guys think it’s the coolest thing and others wouldn’t touch me with a ten foot pole.”
While her next move is still unknown, she hopes that a new opportunity comes her way soon.
“I hope someone sees that and gives me the right opportunity like Bruce did with the Cardinals.”
And her advice to other females who are looking to play football is simple.
“Go after what you love and work hard to be great at it.”