“Play Big: Lessons From the First Woman to Coach in the NFL” by Dr. Jen Welter
Football (American), memoir, women, coaching, Cardinals
October 3, 2017
4 of 5 stars (very good)
Football has been an important part of Jen Walters’ life since she was a child. She played tackle football in school, had a long and successful career in women’s professional football as a linebacker, became the first woman to play in a men’s professional league (as a running back), and then became the first woman to coach in the NFL when she was the linebacker coach for the Arizona Cardinals during the 2016 training camp and preseason. Being so good at breaking glass ceilings, she decided to help other women accomplish the same thing in their fields with this fast-paced book that is a quick and enjoyable read.
While women are the targeted audience of this book, it is very useful for everyone. Advice on such traits maintaining a positive attitude, keeping lines of communication open and facing adversity is given out liberally between stories and accounts of her football career and some information on her personal life and education as well. An example of this type of advice that she learned during her football career came when she was studying the Cardinals’ playbook and she came across the term “salt and pepper.” She was trying to figure out what it meant in football – as it turned out, it was a minor detail in the team’s own language. It was a lesson to not get too lost in minor details and she uses that to provide advice to readers.
Even though Dr. Welter was a coach, don’t expect to read about playbooks, how a linebacker will fill the gap before a running back gains yardage or the drills she made her players run. Instead, the coaching she did in both the men’s indoor football league (the same league in which she was a player) and for the Cardinals was about attitude and confidence. Her notes left for each of her players became the talk of not only the Cardinals’ training camp, but of the entire league. While her time with the Cardinals may have been short (she was considered an intern and no interns were kept by the team after the preseason ended), her legacy for women in a game that has been an exclusive male club will last for a long time.
I wish to thank Da Capo Press for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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