Washington D.C.’s Washington’s Football Team made history after naming Jennifer King their Assistant Running Backs Coach for the 2021-2022 football season, making her the first Black female assistant in the NFL.

King, who previously coached parts of three seasons as an intern, has an extensive background working for the NFL. She was a participant in the NFL’s coaching clinics from 2015 to 2018, and she attended the NFL Women’s Career in Football Forum. Between 2006 and 2019, King played professional football for three women’s football teams, including the Carolina Phoenix, the New York Sharks and the D.C. Divas.

“Representation means so much,” King said in a statement released by the Washington Football Team on Wednesday, January 27. “Essentially right now, we’re what we didn’t have growing up. I think that’s something that we don’t take lightly, I know I don’t. I think it’s really important right now to be a good representative, what I didn’t have growing up. I didn’t have anyone that looked anything like me working. To be able to see that I think is big. I think it’s super cool to be a part of this and just keep doing a good job.”

As the first Black woman to become assistant coach for an NFL team, King serves as an inspiration for women and girls everywhere. She stressed in the team’s statement that it’s important for young Black girls “to know they can do anything.” 

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“It’s been a great few months for women just in general of things that have been accomplished,” King said. “It’s so important for them to know that they’re strong and capable of doing whatever they want to do, no matter what society may look like for them. They’re able to do it.”

King faced many hardships before being promoted in the NFL, according to the team statement. She said she made sure not to let any obstacles hinder her from moving forward. In order to remain mentally sound, King said she followed advice given to her by Dale Earnhardt Jr., semi-retired professional stock car racing driver. He told her not to listen to or read comments on social media or any platform where she could receive criticism. He informed her she should only listen to criticism coming from within her circle.

King says she’s excited about her promotion and is spending her time focusing on the Washington Football team and doing all she can to ensure each player improves.