Gridiron Girls: Proving that Football Isn’t Just for Boys Anymore

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Most girls grow up on stories of princesses and damsels in distress, but Dr. Jen Welter lives out a new fairy tale to tell your little one.

Welter has a list of accolades that shatter the glass ceiling of professional football, a historically male-dominated sport. In 2010 and 2013, she was a gold-medal winning member of Team USA at the International Federation of American Football Women’s World Championship.  Welter was signed by the Texas Revolution as a running back in 2014 and on July 27, 2015, the Arizona Cardinals hired her as the inside linebacker coach. This made Welter the first female coach in National Football League history.

This summer, Welter is touring major cities throughout the country with Grrridiron Girls Flag Football Camp. The objective of this camp is to teach young girls about the different positions in football, to provide one-on-one coaching time with some of the best in the league and to empower them to chase their dreams without reservation. Former NFL players Chris Draft, Dialleo Burks, Andre Fluellen and Rennie Curran accompanied Welter at Lakewood Stadium for the Atlanta edition of her Grrridiron Girls flag football camp.

Welter explained the importance of her tour by saying, “It’s important for these young people to hear how the game is played from both the best men and women in the game.” Throughout the sticky Atlanta heat that lingered on the field as well as a brief downpour, every participant in the camp appeared engaged and enthusiastic about being there. These kids may not have realized that they were learning football from a woman who altered the history of the game, but they all seemed to have a blast playing alongside her.

Of course, a day of football would be incomplete without a team huddle. So, before the kids split into their flag football teams, Coach Welter made a comment to her camp participants that truly resonated saying, “Football is one of those sports that doesn’t work if everyone looks the same and is built the same.” Welter followed this statement with various physical attributes that proved beneficial for specific positions in football and reinforced the importance of working with the traits you were born with to accomplish your dreams.

Her camp required hard work and good listening skills from each player while remaining fun and inclusive. Jen Welter even sang “Happy Birthday” to one of her players right before Freddie, the Atlanta Falcons’ mascot, made a surprise appearance during lunch. You can read more about Jen Welter in her book, “Play Big: Lessons in Being Limitless from the First Woman to Coach in the NFL.”

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