Closing The Gap

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers become the first NFL team to hire two full-time female coaches

Head coach Bruce Arians (C) of the Arizona Cardinals watches from the sidelines during the second half of the NFL game against the New York Giants at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
Christian Petersen | Getty Images
Head coach Bruce Arians (C) of the Arizona Cardinals watches from the sidelines during the second half of the NFL game against the New York Giants at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

On Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made history by becoming the first NFL team to add two full-time female coaches to their staff.

According to the team's website, head coach Bruce Arians has appointed Maral Javadifar to assistant strength and conditioning coach, and Lori Locust to assistant defensive line coach.

Arians, who has known Locust since his coaching days at Temple University, says, "I know how hard it can be to get that first opportunity to coach at the highest level of professional football. Sometimes, all you need is the right organization to offer up the opportunity. The Glazer family and our general manager, Jason Licht, were extremely supportive of my decision, and I know Maral and Lori will be great additions to my coaching staff."

Locust, who attended Temple University and played four years of women's semi-professional football, is a native of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She attended Susquehanna Township High School, where she later served as an assistant coach from 2010-2018, according to the Buccaneers website.

Outside of her coaching gig at her alma mater, Locust served as an assistant coach for semi-professional Harrisburg, Pennsylvania team the Central Penn Piranha, an assistant coach for the semi-professional team the DMV Elite and an assistant coach for the Keystone Assault of the Women's Football Alliance.

Prior to being appointed to her current role with the Buccaneers, she served as the defensive line coach for the Birmingham Iron, a professional sports team under the Alliance of American Football. In 2018, during the NFL training camp season, she also worked with the Baltimore Ravens as a defensive coaching intern after spending one year working as a defensive line/linebackers coach and co-special teams coordinator for the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks of the National Arena League.

"I have known Lori going back to my days at Temple University and I've seen firsthand just how knowledgeable and passionate she is about this game," says Arians. "I was equally impressed with Maral's background in performance training and physical therapy and I know she will be a valuable asset to our strength and conditioning program."

Javadifar, who is a native of Queens, New York, played basketball at Pace University. After earning a bachelor's of science in molecular biology from Pace, she went on to earn her doctor of physical therapy degree from New York Medical College.

In August 2018, she completed her Sports Physical Therapy Residency at Virginia Commonwealth and then worked as a physical therapist at Avant Physical Therapy in Seattle, Washington, reports the Buccaneers. Prior to her residency, she served as a physical therapist and performance trainer in Virginia, and worked as a guest lecturer at George Mason University.

Jen Welter of the Arizona Cardinals watches from the sidelines during the pre-season NFL game against the Kansas City Chiefs at the University of Phoenix Stadium on August 15, 2015.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images Sport
Jen Welter of the Arizona Cardinals watches from the sidelines during the pre-season NFL game against the Kansas City Chiefs at the University of Phoenix Stadium on August 15, 2015.

While Locust and Javadifar are the Buccaneers' first full-time female coaches, they aren't the first women to serve in a coaching role in the NFL.

In 2015, Arians, who was then head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, made history when he hired Jen Welter as an intern for his team. The position, which was not full-time, included Welter working six weeks over the summer as an assistant coach under line backer coach Bob Sanders. At the time, she was the first woman to hold such a position n the NFL.

After receiving reactions on social media about to Welter's hiring, Arians told Sports Illustrated, "I am not afraid to step out and be different. Jen is a quality coach. She has earned this. I think she can help our players get better."

In the years since, a few other women have worked on the coaching staffs of various NFL teams, including Kathryn Smith, who worked as a special teams quality control coach for the Buffalo Bills; Katie Sowers, who was hired in 2018 as an offensive assistant coach for the San Francisco 49ers; and Kelsey Martinez, who was hired in 2018 as a strength and conditioning coach for the Oakland Raiders.

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