By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
The high school football season may have already started, but I’m still not completely in football mode because college and pro ball hasn’t hit full swing yet.
College games kick off this week and I can’t wait. My dad and I have already confirmed our game day plans, which include pizza and hot wings. The NFL has been teasing with a few pre-season games, but, with plays loaded with rookies and guys who won’t make that final 53 man roster, it’s just not the same.
The anticipation is kind of like being a kid at Christmas: you know something exciting is about to happen, but there’s nothing to do for it but wait.
One bit of hype that has been fun to relish in so far, though, involves a pretty fantastic sea change within the NFL. This season, the League has welcomed two women to pioneer positions: Jen Welter, an intern coach with the Arizona Cardinals, and Sarah Thomas, the first full-time official.
These women represent what will hopefully be some of the first of many women advancing to notable positions within the professional sports world.
Welter, who’s been assisting the Cards as an inside linebackers coach, has experience on the gridiron herself, having played arena football in men’s leagues. As if playing with the boys isn’t impressive enough, she also holds a master’s degree in sports psychology and a doctorate in psychology.
Thomas has two decades’ worth of experience as an official. She started officiating grade school level games, then worked her way up to high school and college, becoming the first woman official to work a college bowl game, as well as within a collegiate conference. Now she’s the first woman to be assigned to a regular officiating crew. She’s officiated two of the pre-season games I’ve seen so far, earning compliments for her accuracy from former Cowboys play-caller and three time Super Bowl champ, Troy Aikman.
Welter and Thomas follow Becky Hammond in making pro-sport history. In 2014, San Antonio Spurs head coach Greg Popovich hired Hammon as the first female coach in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Hammon had previously played professionally in the WNBA with the New York Liberty and the San Antonio Stars.
There’s no doubt about it: it’s an exciting time to be a sports fan. I’m looking forward to this season. I’ll be paying as much attention to the sidelines as I am to what’s going on in between the hash marks. And all this news makes me wonder one thing: how soon before we see a female coach in the Texas high school football arena?
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