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Sports Envoy Program
Dr Jen Welter and Phaidra Knight
61 MINUTE READ
September 21, 2022

Overview

We are delighted to have Dr Jen Welter and Phaidra Knight in New Zealand and Samoa for a Sports Envoy Program.

 

Who are Dr Jen Welter and Phaidra Knight?

Dr Jen Welter is the first female to coach in the NFL. Widely known as a trailblazer and pioneer in professional football. She is a powerful role model and an inspiring reminder that barriers are meant to be broken. Jen has two gold medals as a member of Team USA and holds a PHD in Psychology, a Masters in Sport Psychology, and a Bachelors degree from Boston College.

Dr Jen Welter - the first female to coach in the NFL
Dr Jen Welter – the first female to coach in the NFL.

 

Phaidra Knight is a rugby hall of famer, and current mixed martial arts (MMA) athlete. She is also a sports media talent, motivational speaker, lawyer, and entrepreneur. The Founder of PeaK, a program for incarcerated, special needs, and exploited young people which focuses on leadership and learning and promotes health and wellbeing through yoga and rugby. Phaidra also serves as one of the Board of Trustees for the Women’s Sports Foundation and USA Rugby Board of Directors.

Phaidra Knight - a rugby hall of famer, and current mixed martial arts (MMA) athlete
Phaidra Knight – a rugby hall of famer, and current mixed martial arts (MMA) athlete

What is a Sports Envoy Program?

The Sports Envoy Program is a State Department run Exchange Program.  Sports Envoys are athletes and coaches who travel overseas to lead programs that were developed by U.S. embassies and consulates. These American coaches and athletes hold sports clinics for young people and their coaches, participate in community outreach activities, and engage youth in a dialogue on the importance of leadership and respect for diversity. Sports Diplomacy manages the Sports Envoy programs, working in cooperation with the U.S. Olympic Committee, U.S. sports federations, and professional leagues.

This program aims to provide opportunities to contribute to, manage, and create successful sports and recreational organizations, as well as drive policy changes and conduct advocacy work to advance gender equity in sports and recreation. 

A two country, three city (Auckland, Wellington, and Apia) program focused on empowering women and girls through a series of speaking engagements, workshops, school outreach, networking events, and sports engagements; working alongside partners focused women and girls. 

Women face gender inequities in health, employment, education, and gender-based violence throughout the Pacific, and COVID-19 has exacerbated these issues-widening the gender pay gap, increasing unemployment, and gender-based violence; though research shows sports and recreation are a powerful, positive tool for change. 

Bios

Phaidra Knight – rugby hall of famer, MMA athlete, and commentator

 Phaidra Knight..Phaidra Knight is a mixed martial arts (MMA) athlete, and more commonly known as a former international rugby player, sports media talent, motivational speaker, lawyer, and entrepreneur. For nearly 18 years, Phaidra traveled the globe as a professional rugby player. In November 2017, she was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame. 

The Founder of PeaK. A program for incarcerated, special needs, and exploited young people which focuses on leadership and learning, which promotes health and wellbeing through yoga and rugby (touch or flag). The program provides unique opportunities to engage both the body and mind. Rugby and yoga complement one another by providing a natural framework for balance.

Phaidra serves as one of the Board of Trustees for the Women’s Sports Foundation and USA Rugby Board of Directors. 

Phaidra was born and raised in the small, rural town of Irwinton, Georgia. It was there where she learned the core values of integrity, commitment, respect and discipline that have fueled and guided her career. It was on the field, though, where she learned the indispensable attributes of teamwork, leadership and effective communication.

Website: here.
Facebook: here.
Instagram: here.  

 

Dr Jen Welter – first woman to coach in the NFL, gold medalist, PHD in psychology/sports psychologist

Dr. Jen Welter is the first female to coach in the National Football League (NFL). In the summer of 2015, she served as a linebackers coach for the Arizona Cardinals. Widely known as a trailblazer and pioneer in professional American football, she most recently served as a defensive specialist for the Alliance of American Football (AAF). 

Following her record-breaking accomplishment with the Cardinals, Welter became the head coach of the first Australian women’s national team in 2017. Welter became the first woman to play running back in a men’s professional football league with the Texas Revolution. In early 2015, Welter was hired as the first female coach in men’s professional football, helping coach the most successful Revolution season in franchise history. 

Prior to joining the world of men’s professional football, Welter had a highly decorated 14-year career in women’s professional football which included four World Championships, two gold medals as a member of Team USA in the 2010 and 2013 International Federation of American Football’s (IFAF) Women’s World Championship, and eight all-star selections. She was inducted into the first class of the Women’s Football Hall of Fame on November 30, 2018. 

Welter is committed to increasing access and opportunities in football. To empower women through football, Welter designed her signature program, “A Day in the Life,” Camp and continues to create a range of camps for girls and women through her GRRRidiron Flag Football Camp. Her initiatives go on to include everything a “Camp on the Corner” program for youth in under-served areas to publications like “Play Big: Lessons in Being Limitless from the First Woman to Coach in the NFL. 

Welter has served on the advisory board for the NFL’s Pro Football Hall of Fame Game for Life Academy since 2017. 

She holds a doctorate degree in Psychology, a Master’s in Sport Psychology, and a bachelor’s degree from Boston College.

Website: here.
Facebook: here.
Twitter: here.
Instagram: here. 

Social Media from Phaidra & Jen's time in Auckland

Social Media from Phaidra & Jen's time in Wellington

Media

Radio New Zealand Interview – First woman to coach NFL visiting NZ
Dr Jen Welter was the first female coach in the NFL in 2015. Then she became the head coach of the Australia women’s national team in 2017.

She has just been announced to join the XFL, Professional American football league coaching team.

Dr Jen Welter is in New Zealand for a week for a Sports Envoy programme. She talks to Charlotte about the gender imbalance in sports coaching. [listen here]