It was Jen Walter making her name known as a summer intern for the Arizona Cardinals back in 2015. Then, more recently, the San Francisco 49ers hired Katie Sowers to be one of the first full-time female assistant coaches in NFL history.
In continuing with the progressive and inclusive tendencies of the Northern California region, the Oakland Raiders have followed suit.
Kelsey Martinez, 26, was just hired as an assistant coach for the Raiders. She is listed on the Raiders’ official website as a strength and conditioning coach.
Following her hiring, other Raiders assistant coaches went up to Martinez to thank her for acting as a role model for their daughters. Her response was clear, “to be an inspiration for them is huge to me,” Martinez told Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
For the Raiders themselves, it doesn’t necessarily seem like they look at her any different than other coaches in the male-dominated industry.
“She’s super awesome,” linebacker James Cowser said. “I mean, there’s a reason I went to Tom Shaw in the offseason, right? When I first met her, from the beginning, she opens her mouth, and you instantly know she knows what she’s talking about. It’s the same reaction here with all the guys. At first glance, you’re like, ‘Wow, that’s a woman.’ And then they start talking, and it’s, ‘Oh, that’s a coach.’ You know what I mean? It’s that instant switch of, ‘Oh, that’s interesting,’ to, ‘Oh, I need to get my feet up.’”
More so than any other team in the NFL, these Raiders have represented diversity and inclusion throughout their history.
From being the initial team to select an African-American quarterback in the first round to hiring the first female CEO in league history, it’s been a part of the Raiders’ history. That also includes the team hiring the first Latino and African-American head coaches in NFL history.
Not necessarily a trendsetter in this regard, the Raiders are simply aiding in an ongoing effort to move the NFL away from its male-dominated and machismo culture.