Sports history was made this week-end, and it had nothing to do with the Olympics. This week-end marked the first time that a woman has played a contact position in a professional men’s football league. An awful lot of people think that this was some type of marketing stunt, but I personally know the woman in question and I can guarantee you that this is no stunt. This trailblazing football player is Dr. Jen Welter and she is going to be the first person I write about in my “Women That Inspire” series.
When you first meet Dr. Welter you would never suspect that she is a football player. Sure, she is in amazing shape and has awesome muscles, but she is tiny. At a height of 5’2” you would never imagine that she could play with the “big boys”, but her knowledge of and passion for the game more than make up for what she may lack in height and weight. In addition to playing for women’s football teams (and winning many, many honors) she is also a PhD in Psychology, a personal trainer, and a motivational speaker. You can learn more about her credentials and awards on her website, www.jenwelter.com
Photo via The Dallas Morning News
I have read comments from some folks on the internet that are critical of Dr. Welter and her motives. They think that she is endorsing that women compete directly with men in all areas, but that is not the case at all. She is passionate about football and she wants people to understand that women are just as passionate about the game as men are. She wants little girls to understand that it is OK to play sports instead of dolls. She wants women and girls to have an opportunity to play. In her own words, “If people don’t want me or any other girl to play with the boys, then equivalent options need to be created for girls to play against girls.”
In Dr. Welter’s interviews it quickly becomes obvious that she is not doing this for herself. She is very vocal that this is about giving young girls an example and opening doors for girls to play sports that are not “girl sports”. She always wants to teach girls the lesson that you earn respect by taking the big hit, getting back up, and going for it again. I don’t have a daughter, but if I did I would be eternally grateful to Jen for teaching this lesson that goes far beyond the playing field.
Although Dr. Welter is mainly trying to be a role model for young girls, she is also a wonderful role model for us “big girls”. She shows us by example that you have to push for what you are passionate about. She reminds us that it doesn't matter what other people think we “should” be doing with our lives. The thing that matters is that we pursue our dreams, that we go out onto our chosen playing field & play with passion, that we take our hits & keep on playing.