Woman becomes NFL's first female full-time coach In this provided by the Buffalo Bills, Bills’ Head coach Rex Ryan poses with assistant football coach Kathryn Smith Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Orchard Park, N.Y. Smith, who has worked with Ryan for seven years, has become the first, full time, female assistant coach in the National Football League. (Anna Stolzenberg/Buffalo Bills via AP)
Woman becomes NFL's first female full-time coach
Lexile

Armed with notepads, pens and a keen eye for talent, Connie Carberg is still scouting football players.
 
She simply can't get enough of breaking down film. That's why the 64-year-old Carberg was in front of her television at home Jan. 23 in Coconut Creek, Florida, watching the East-West Shrine Game and the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
 
"I love it," Carberg said. "When draft time comes, I've got all my notes on every player."
 
Carberg was the first woman to serve as a scout for an NFL team, working with the New York Jets in the 1970s. She was excited this month when the Buffalo Bills hired Kathryn Smith as the league's first full-time female assistant coach.
 
"It caught me totally by surprise," Carberg told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "I started seeing things on the news and on Twitter, and then I was like, 'Wow!' I just got really excited. I think it's a great opportunity for women."
 
Bills coach Rex Ryan promoted Smith to special teams quality control coach, an entry-level, assistant position, but a path that prominent coaches such as Jon Gruden, Eric Mangini, Tony Sparano and Todd Haley took on their way to getting top jobs in the league.
 
The 30-year-old Smith worked for Ryan with the Jets since 2009 as the team's player personnel assistant, and she joined the coach in Buffalo after he was fired by New York after the 2014 season. She was an administrative assistant for Buffalo's assistant coaches, working on various projects.
 
"The fact she has been around for a long time is important," Carberg said. "She has proven herself. It's not just something like, 'Let's just put a woman in there and let's make history.'"
 
As special teams quality control coach, Smith will deal with things such as charting and diagramming plays, and scouting blocking schemes and tendencies of kickers and punters.
 
"To me, the best part of this is that Kathryn has a chance to just learn so much and ask questions and pick up so many things," Carberg said.
 
Carberg served as a scout for the Jets from 1976-80, breaking a gender barrier in the NFL while watching game films, traveling and scouting college players. She is credited with bringing attention to then-little known defensive end Mark Gastineau, who became one of the league's top pass rushers after being drafted by the Jets in 1979. Gastineau invited Carberg to be his guest when he was inducted into the team's Ring of Honor in 2012.
 
Carberg, who will be the subject of an upcoming book about her life in the NFL, helped open the door for other women.
 
In 1986, the late Linda Bogdan, daughter of then-Bills owner Ralph Wilson, was hired by the team as a full-time scout.
 
Amy Trask was the Raiders' chief executive officer for owner Al Davis from 1997 until she resigned in 2013. The Jets promoted longtime executive Jacqueline Davidson to director of football administration last summer. Miami's Dawn Aponte (executive vice president of football administration), Cincinnati's Katie Blackburn (executive vice president), San Diego's Jeanne Bonk (executive vice president and chief financial officer) and San Francisco's Hannah Gordon (vice president of legal and government affairs) are among a growing list of high-ranking women in football front offices.
 
Jen Welter became the NFL's first female position coach last summer when she worked as an intern for the Arizona Cardinals while coaching linebackers.
 
"I still believe it's going to take a little bit of time," Carberg said. "I think Jen Welter would make an ideal scout because she has played the game and loves the sport. As far as the scouting world, that's the one thing I can't believe in 40 years other than myself and Linda that there haven't really been other women scouts. I can definitely see even more opportunities opening up there. It's just not looked upon as weird anymore where it might have been perceived in the past to talk to players and coaches and travel."
 
Carberg, whose father, Dr. Calvin Nicholas, was the Jets' internist, was hired by New York coach Charley Winner in 1974 as a team receptionist and then became the scouting secretary before being sent on the road to places such as alma mater Ohio State, Boston College, New York- and New Jersey-area schools, and the Orange Bowl in Miami to watch and interview players.
 
She was charged with making the Jets' 17th-round draft selection before leaving her role after the 1980 season to focus on her family.
 
Despite being in such a male-dominated environment, Carberg said she never felt awkward or intimidated.
 
"My biggest boosters in the world were men," she said. "Maybe because I felt so comfortable doing what I did. You might get some resistance, like anything else. But this younger generation right now is used to having their moms working, and working in very high positions. I think the respect is there. I think it's a lot of easier for women now than it might have been back in the old days."

Filed Under:  
Assigned 63 times
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is Kathryn Smith's new job a big deal?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (32)
  • mikelg-jon
    2/01/2016 - 12:03 p.m.

    That's cool how one person can change something that is so big in our generation.She is an inspiration to us all.

  • kendallk-pla
    2/01/2016 - 03:00 p.m.

    This article is about a woman who began as a scout for an NFL team and throughout the years, after multiple position changes and promotions, is now being promoted to a full time coach. Some people could say that this connects to ethics in that it should be more popular for women to have these types of positions. The article suggests that this will help to break a sort of barrier that keeps women from obtaining positions typically held by men. While I think this is great, I think this provides an example of drawing attention to minorities (women) and my attitude towards this type of news is similar to that of the coach, who said that this was not happening to make history, but that Smith was simply advancing because she had proven herself and she was qualified for her new title. While I believe that stereotypes can create barriers for women, I do not think it would be difficult for more women to get similar positions if they wanted them.

  • elizabeths1-ric
    2/01/2016 - 04:04 p.m.

    Woman should be allowed to coach nfl teams because it gives a new chance for woman to show something they are good at."Carberg served as a scout for the Jets from 1976-80, breaking a gender barrier in the NFL while watching game films, traveling and scouting college players. She is credited with bringing attention to then-little known defensive end Mark Gastineau, who became one of the league's top pass rushers after being drafted by the Jets in 1979. Gastineau invited Carberg to be his guest when he was inducted into the team's Ring of Honor in 2012." This shows that woman can make a breakthrough like Carberg did in 1976.

  • briannap1-ric
    2/01/2016 - 04:04 p.m.

    I think that women should be allowed to coach for the NFL teams. That's because I feel that anyone that has be knowledge to coach sports and wants to, should be able to. Like it says in the second paragraph, it totally caught her by surprise, and I think tat women should be more involved in a lot of things that is going on. After this, probably a lot of teams will start to have women coaching them.

  • lilyc-ric
    2/01/2016 - 04:05 p.m.

    Yes, women should be able to be NFL coaches, because women are capable of doing everything that men can do. If a women wants to be an NFL coach, and they are good at it, they should. Nobody should tell them that they can't just because they are a woman. Connie was the first woman to be an NFL coach. She made history.

  • jaylaw-ric
    2/01/2016 - 04:06 p.m.

    women should be able to be a coach for a nfl sport because some wemon know more about sports then some guys and i guess that she is a women that know a lot about football. Women should be able to play because they are special just like men are and they should be able to coach like some men do. so i do think that wemon can coach for the NFL.

  • khyonc-ric
    2/01/2016 - 04:08 p.m.

    I think that women should be able to coach football.In the NFL there are women who play football and I don't see why they can't coach if they can play.There should not be a gender barrier in any sport and women are just as capable of handling really anything a man could do.I think that women could possibly do a better job at coaching than men, not to say that men do a bad job or anything but i do think women would be able to coach better that some men could do.

  • tiaj-ric
    2/01/2016 - 04:08 p.m.

    Yes, women should be able to coach NFL teams. Women can do just as good as men can. It's not fair that women are still being criticized or doubted that they can't do the things boys do. Women can do the same things men can do.Women might even be able to do it better.

  • skyeh-ric
    2/01/2016 - 04:09 p.m.

    I think women should be able to coach for NFL. The women who are helping with the NFL know what they are doing. They've played the game and know all there is to it. "I just got really excited!I think its a great opportunity for women.". This is also another good reason, no woman ha ever coached for the NFL, great opportunity.

  • jazlynt-1-ric
    2/01/2016 - 04:18 p.m.

    I feel that women should be able to coach teams in the NFL. The reason I feel that way is because if women are good enough to scout for players and be assistant coaches then why can't we be full coaches. In the article it says " Carberg was the first woman to serve as a scout for an NFL team, working with the New York Jets in the 1970s." And it also says " Jen Welter became the NFL's first female position coach last summer when she worked as an intern for the Arizona Cardinals while coaching linebackers." And these are just some reasons and examples why I think women could and/or should be NFL coaches.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT