Phoebe Schecter has created history by becoming the first British woman to get an offer from a major American league team to coach, as a part of the Bill Walsh Coaching Fellowship, a program designed to provide a platform to talented coaches from minority colleges to learn the philosophies and methods of the NFL training camp.
At 5ft and 4 inches and weighing 63 kilos, anybody can hardly believe that she can actually coach an NFL football team, but appearances are deceiving!
She has a plethora of achievements to add to her kitty – captain of the women’s American Football Team of Great Britain, she led them to the finals of the 2015 European Championship. She’s an American by birth, and in a twist of irony, only started playing the game when she moved to Britain five years ago. Quickly rising through the ranks, she became a standout linebacker for the Birmingham Lions in the British American Football League. Her success led her to decide to branch out to coaching, which she says, ‘started driving my decisions and opportunities’.
She knows that she will not be able to play this game forever, as she expressed in an interview, but she says ‘I just want to be able to give back.’ This occurred through a person called Kim Pegula, the co-owner of the Buffalo Bills. She initially wanted Schecter to send her a list of recommendations of female coaching and scouting candidates when the two met each other at Women’s Careers in Football Forum in January at Orlando. Apparently Pegula became so enamoured with Schecter that she recommended her to Sean McDermott, the head coach of the Bills – who offered her the training camp internship, focused on defence.
Image Source: Alison Berrisford
Buffalo Bills had already became the pioneer in 2015, by breaking major gender roles in a game which is associated with a very macho masculine image, when they hired Kathryn Smith, the first female coach in NFL.
Phoebe recalls a very amiable experience in her stint at Buffalo Bills, and says that even though the days started at 6.00 AM and ended at 11.30 PM resulting in coaches sleeping at facilities, she felt she made some really good friends, as everyone was respectful and kind – and she never felt out of place.
She wishes to apply all the knowledge and training she gained in US, to help the coaches back home and hopes more people, be it male or female, apply to the internship in subsequent years.
When asked about her own aspirations, she candidly replies that she wants to be an assistant coach at NFL, as coming back from this experience, she doesn’t want to stop now.
Image Source: Buffalo Bills