By Kaia Zimmerman
Jennifer King has just been announced as the assistant running back coach for the Washington Football Team, making her the first Black woman assistant coach in the NFL.
Washington went 7-9 in the 2020 season and won their division to make it to the playoffs where they lost in the first round. During that season, King was a coaching intern. After her contribution to the season, she was promoted to assistant running back coach.
The head coach for the Washington Football Team, Ron Rivera praised King for her coaching skills, and said he was excited to see her step up to this position.
“Coach King is well-deserving of the promotion to assistant running backs coach. She came to Washington eager for the opportunity to work as a full-year coaching intern and learn from our staff,” said Rivera in a statement on their website.
Before getting the job, King, 36, spent time on the collegiate level where she worked at Dartmouth. She also worked at the Alliance of American Football. She then worked as an offensive coaching intern for the Carolina Panthers for two offseasons.
As well as coaching, King also has experience on the field. King was a seven-time All-American wide receiver and quarterback for a women’s tackle football team, the Carolina Phoenix. In 2018, she won the WFA National Championship with the New York Sharks.
King talked about the importance of representation, but she also was focused on getting to work right away, and making the team better.
“Representation means so much,” King said in an interview with ESPN. “It’s really important right now to be a good representative, what I didn’t have growing up. I didn’t have anyone that looked anything like me working. To be able to see that, I think, is big. It’s super cool to be a part of this.”
King talked about how for so long women weren’t even considered when teams were looking to fill coaching positions, and her role of showing that they should be considered is a huge step in the right direction.
“It’s so important to open the entire pool of applicants when you have a position,” King said. “So far, historically in football, it’s only 50% of the people; no women were considered. For future female coaches coming up, this gives them a foot in the door. It’s up to us to do a good job.”
Women are making more of an impact in football this season than ever before. Two women will be on the coaching staff in the Super Bowl, and it will be the first time a woman will be officiating at the Super Bowl.
There are currently eight female coaches overall in the NFL, and six of them made it to the NFL playoffs in 2020.
This is a huge step for women in sports and for people of color. King is making a path for a lot of people and is also showing a lot of young girls that any goal is possible, but we also still have a long way to go for women to be represented in sports.
“There are people of all races and genders that can do really good things at all levels of football,” King said.