By Published On: April 7, 2021

What is one of the clearest signs of the disparity between men and women in sports? Coaching.

In 2012, no women served as coaches in the NBA, MLB, NHL and NFL. In 2016, a report by the Women’s Sports Foundation found that in college sports, 57% of women’s teams were coached by men, while only 3% of men’s teams were coached by women, with the majority of those teams being minor, co-ed sports.

In recent years, women have made strides in coaching for national leagues. Here are some of the women who’ve made history as coaches.

Becky Hammon

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In 2014, Becky Hammon became the first full-time female assistant coach in the NBA, following a 16-year career in the WNBA. She joined the San Antonio Spurs as an assistant coach, where she’s been for six years this season. “Pop didn’t just hand me an opportunity,” Hammon told ESPN. “It wasn’t about bringing a girl on board. It’s about that person fitting with the group.

Kim Ng

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In 2020, Kim Ng became the first woman to become a general manager for an MLB team, and the first woman to hold that title in the history of North American professional sports. She is the general manager of the Miami Marlins. She has worked with the Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, and LA Dodgers prior to her position as GM, as well as in the MLB Commissioner’s Office.

Jennifer King

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Jennifer King made history in 2021 by becoming the first black female assistant coach in the NFL. She joined the Washington Football Team in 2020 as a coaching intern before being promoted to assistant coach at the start of the year. She is the second female assistant coach in the NFL.

Katie Sowers

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Katie Sowers made NFL history in 2020 by becoming the first female coach to coach at the Superbowl and is the first openly gay coach in the NFL. She was the offensive assistant coach to the San Francisco 49ers and has since left the team in efforts to find “an expanded role” in her next position, according to CBS Sports.

Nancy Lieberman

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Nancy Lieberman, known for being an incredibly talented WNBA player, became the first woman to coach a professional men’s team in 2009, when she became the head coach of the Texas Legends in the NBA Developmental League. She also went on to become the second female assistant coach in NBA history.

Jennifer Welter

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Jennifer Welter broke barriers in 2015 by becoming the first female NFL coach, taking a part time coaching position with the Arizona Cardinals. She earned a gold medal at the IFAF Women’s World Championship, having played for several years in professional and semi-professional women’s football leagues, and played rugby in college.

Dawn Braid

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In 2016 Dawn Braid became the first full-time female coach in the NHL, serving as a skating coach for the Arizona Coyotes. Her hiring for the role followed seven years serving as the director of skating development at the Athletes Training Centre in Ontario.

Bernadette Mattox

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Bernadette Mattox became the first female assistant coach in Division I men’s basketball in 1990 and became the first African American to coach women’s basketball in the Southeastern Conference. On top of that, she was the first female athlete in Georgia to earn All-American and Academic All-American honors.

Natalie Nakase

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In 2014, Natalie Nakase became the first female coach to sit on an NBA team’s bench during the Clipper’s NBA Summer League team. She became a full-time assistant coach in 2018, and prior to working with the clippers, she became the first female coach in men’s pro basketball in Japan.

Kim Wyant

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As one of the very few women who coach NCAA men’s, Kim Wyant is the first woman to lead a men’s soccer team to the NCAA tournament. Prior to her position as head coach for the New York University men’s soccer team, she was one of the original members of the U.S. Soccer Women’s National Team.

Emily Zaler

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As a recent graduate of Concordia-Chicago’s Master of Science in Applied Exercise Science, Emily Zaler made history in late 2020 when she became the first female coach in Denver Broncos’ history, joining the very few female coaches in the NFL. Zaler serves as the assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Broncos, having worked with the team as a Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellow prior to her joining as a full-time coach.

Want to learn more about history makers in sports? Read our article, “Black History Month: 10 Barrier-Breaking Athletes You Should Know About.”



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