As with all of my books, I wanted to find someone to write a short foreword to set the tone for The Women’s Football Encyclopedia.  After all, most of the book is me droning on about the subject at hand, so I like to let someone else get things off on the right foot.

In a book about women’s football, I knew I wanted to get a player to write the foreword…but not just any player.  I wanted an accomplished women’s football player.  Someone who had won several national championships.  Someone who had won a gold medal or two.  And maybe someone who had broken a significant barrier for women in sports…like, I don’t know, coaching in the NFL or something.

You know where I’m going with this, right?

Dr. Jen Welter

Just in case you haven’t had access to any major sports outlet lately, Dr. Jen Welter made history this fall when she was hired by the Arizona Cardinals as an assistant coaching intern for their training camp and preseason. Welter, who won four national titles as a member of the Dallas Diamonds and two gold medals as a member of Team USA at the IFAF Women’s World Championships, added “first female coach in NFL history” to her resume this year.

As you can imagine, Welter’s phone has been blowing up with media requests non-stop ever since.  I didn’t really expect her to have time to help me out, but hey, you don’t know if you don’t ask.  Glad I asked.  Dr. Welter could not have been more gracious with her time, and I had the perfect person to pen the foreword to The Women’s Football Encyclopedia.

Jen Welter Foreword Excerpts

Jen Welter provided a four-page foreword to the book.  It was tremendous to hear about her career in women’s football.  After two years with the Massachusetts Mutiny in 2002 and 2003, Welter moved to Texas to play in 2004 with the Dallas Dragons.

I particularly enjoyed hearing the story of her season with the Dragons.  Welter is one of the all-time greats in women’s football, yet the humble story of playing for such an out-manned team is one to which many, many women’s football players can relate:

In the spring of 2004, I played for a new team, the Dallas Dragons. The Dragons only lasted for one season. In our last game of the year against the Austin Outlaws, we had so many injuries and so many people had quit that we only had 13 healthy players in uniform. Needless to say, I didn’t come off the field a whole lot that game! I played on both offense and defense and scored our only touchdown as a running back, but we lost the game, 52-6.

Jen Welter then joined the Dallas Diamonds and became a key part of one of the most dominant dynasties in women’s football history.  The Diamonds won three straight national championships in the WPFL from 2004-2006, and Welter explains how the Diamonds were able to build one of the great legacies in women’s football:

We had so much talent, and again, we also had that accountability to each other and our mutual promise that we would work. I mean, we worked. We had Saturday morning practices, practices after work…we were all in, all the time. It was an amazing group to be around. Sometimes you’re tired and you want to skip practice, but we knew if we did, we’d miss so much that missing practice was almost torture. It wasn’t so much about the coaches calling us out…we would call each other out on stuff. We were very much a family, and we took a lot of pride in what we were doing on that football field.

The Dallas Diamonds moved to the IWFL in 2008 and won their fourth national title in five years.  Welter revealed that she nearly called it quits after that season, but she was pulled back into the sport by a new challenge:

A lot of great players on the Diamonds retired after that 2008 championship. I have to confess, having had such a dominant team and a dynasty for so long…I considered retirement, too. I thought, ‘What else is there to play for or accomplish in this sport? What are you trying to prove? We’ve already done everything that could possibly be done in this game.’

Then I heard about the IFAF Women’s World Championships. Without a doubt, it was the opportunity to possibly represent my country that showed me there was more I could do in football. I had never even thought something like that would be possible. But the Women’s World Championships showed me that there were still opportunities out there I’d never dreamt of, and knowing that, I had to stay in the game.

Jen Welter qualified for Team USA in 2010 and was a member of the first women’s football team to represent the United States in international competition.  Welter pointed out one way that experience changed her life:

As a team, we were honored to be representing our country by playing our country’s favorite sport. We were ambassadors on an international level, and we were so proud to wear the red, white, and blue. I have never listened to the national anthem the same since the first time I heard it there. It’s something people often take for granted at American sporting events…we play the national anthem, and that’s for everyone. But when you play the national anthem on an international stage, that’s what you’re playing for. The other country’s anthem is being played alongside ours, because the other team’s playing for something else. That’s a surreal feeling.

Welter, of course, made national headlines this year as the first female coach in NFL history.  Some might have called it a dream, but Welter is quick to note how that isn’t entirely accurate:

Coaching in the NFL, people would always tell me I was ‘living the dream’. I had to let them know that I wasn’t living my dream, because as a young girl, this was a dream I was never permitted to have. The beautiful thing is that because of my experience with the Cardinals, other women can actually have that dream in the future. Now a little girl can look at an NFL sideline and say, ‘I can do that.’

These are just a few of the stories Dr. Jen Welter was kind enough to share in the foreword to The Women’s Football Encyclopedia.  Many, many thanks to Jen Welter for being a part of this project!

Final proofing of the book is going well.  In my next post, I’ll give you a few excerpts of the book itself and hopefully some information on how to pre-order your copy!  Hang tight!

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