TAMPA BAY, Fl. (WDVM) – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will make history on Sunday with two female coaches on their sideline.
The Bucs are the only team in the NFL will two female coaches, assistant defensive line coach, Lori Locust, and strength and conditioning coach, Maral Javadifar, who on Sunday, will become just the second and third women to coach in a Super Bowl.
The media has been fascinated with these trailblazing women ever since last year when it was Katie Sowers, San Francisco 49ers’ assistant offensive line coach, who broke through to become the first woman to coach in a Super Bowl, but for Locust, all the media hype, though appreciated, is all just noise.
“It’s not a consideration when we’re coaching,” said Locust, who is also a mother of two sons. “We acknowledge the fact that there hasn’t been many before us, but it’s not anything that we keep in the forefront of what we do on a daily basis.
Locust is also friends with Washington Football Team’s recently named assistant running backs coach, Jennifer King, the first black female coach in the NFL.
“Katie [Sowers], Jennifer King and I have remained close over the past couple of years, reaching out to each other, asking questions…and this was way before I was hired in Tampa,” explained Locust.
Those relationships are momentous for these women who are trying to, not only find their way in this league that has been dominated by men, but also create a network for future female NFL coaches.
“The guys kind of have it automatically in the coaching tree, you know, ‘I coached with him at this college,’ ‘he and I played high school ball together,’ and they sort of have that automatic connection.”
Locust says that women have to build that connection, something that could have the biggest impact for the future of women coaching in the NFL then any headline written about them, or anything they accomplish on the football field.
“It’s been nice being on the forefront of building that framework for the rest of the women coaches that are going to be coming in behind us,” said Locust. “It’s natural, it’s organic, so we don’t really make a big deal about it, but it is nice to have somebody who understands just a little bit better.”
Mentoring the next generation of women is also something that Locust is passionate about, and says that she actively looks for ways to do so, however, she acknowledges that there are women all over the country that have been trailblazing their own path.
“What it looks like sometimes is that we just sprung up out of nowhere, whereas there are hundreds of women that are at various levels of football -high school, college, semi-pro – and they’ve been out there doing it on their own and earning those positions on their own without any help from anyone else.”
Help never hurt anyone though, and what if to make it to the pros, all some of these women need is a little exposure? Enter Samantha Rapoport.
Rapoport is the NFL’s senior director of football development who has made it her mission to normalize women in football.
“Where this starts to take shape is the pipeline that Sam Rapoport has just championed and put together with the NFL,” explained Locust. “The women’s forums that she has constructed over the last few years has put head coaches, general managers, and lead scouting department people in front of some very very viable, promising, talented women that I feel if COVID haven’t it, you would see so many more women in the league this year.”
This year there were eight female coaches on NFL staffs, two of which who will be under the lights on football’s biggest stage on Sunday. Time will tell the true impact of women like Locust, Javadifar, King and Sowers, but that’s history’s story to tell. Today’s story is this:
“We are here to help Tampa Bay win. It wouldn’t matter if we’re 2nd in or 273rd in.”