Did you hear the one about the female professional football player? Well, it’s true.
No, really. Jennifer Welter just became the first ever woman to play in a men’s professional football game. She has not made the team officially just yet, but Welter played in a game with the Indoor Football League’s Texas Revolution this past weekend. You may have heard a thing or two about the folks in Texas being diehard football fans.
You would expect that a woman playing in a men’s professional team would be tall, wouldn’t you? Jennifer Welter is just 5′ 2″ tall. She is the personification of mind over matter.
Have I mentioned that she is also 36 years old? That is getting up there by any standards of professional sports.
A short woman.
Playing on a men’s football team.
A professional team.
A short 36 year old woman playing on a men’s professional football team in Texas.
How awesome is that??
Wait. It gets even better. Jennifer Welter holds a PhD in Psychology, an MS in Sport Psychology, and a BS in Business. She played women’s professional football for 13 years, including 4 national championships. Though she has not officially made the team yet, she has made quite an impression. One that goes well beyond the Texas Revolution’s regular fan base. I would venture to bet that if she does make the team, she will likely become its most popular player.
This story is not just a testament not just to Welter, but also to the organization which she says has welcomed her with open arms. As a society we talk incessantly about inclusion, yet sometimes it seems like all we actually do is create a bigger divide. I am sure it was not an easy decision for the team’s management or the teammates. This must present a quite a distraction and it seems as if the organization as a whole has done a wonderful job.
As a parent of boys, I find it difficult at times to show my sons that girls are just as good as boys, when what they see in the media and on their television shows does not necessarily reflect that. Even in this day and age they are seeing images of men as studs and women as objects. They are seeing girls acting petty and taking on menial roles and images of boys who save the day. As much as I my try to pound equality into their hearts and minds, what they see and hear in the media all too often runs contrary to my statements.
If we truly want to raise a generation of empowered girls to be anything they want to be in life, that statement actually has to hold true. If we want to raise empowered girls, we need them to see stories like this one, stories of groundbreaking women. Sure, we have a long way to go. That part is obvious. Yet, at least in my opinion, stories such as this one sure do help.
Kudos to you, Jennifer Welter. No matter what happens you have made an impression on this girl and football fan.