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NFL careers forum opens pathway for women (USA)

In a way, social media drove Phoebe Schecter away from her beloved horses.

As a child, Schecter aspired to own a horse farm and rescue animals. She earned a degree in equine business management from Post University in Connecticut and moved to England to work with horses after graduation.

Schecter was perfectly content when she noticed a Facebook ad for a football league.

“I was looking for a way to meet people and get a bit of American culture,” said Schecter, 28. “I just went for it.”

Before playing, Schecter’s time spent around football consisted solely of watching the Super Bowl a couple of times. From that humble beginning, she has grown to the point where she took part in the NFL Women’s Careers in Football Forum the past two years during Pro Bowl Week in Orlando and is one of nine attendees who served coaching, scouting or production internships in the league in 2017.

Schecter was a coaching intern with the Buffalo Bills.

“We’re focused on just normalizing females in football operations, on the sidelines,” said Sam Rapoport, the NFL’s director of football development. “What we’re trying to achieve is when we stop talking about, ‘She’s a female scout, she’s a female coach, what-have-you,’ and it just becomes normal.

“That’s when we’ll feel like we achieved something.”

In a sport charged with testosterone, it’s very rare for women to rise above – especially when the job entails interacting with players or analyzing their strengths and weaknesses on tape.

Jacqueline Davidson and Anne Doepner are the exceptions. They hold the title of director of football administration with the New York Jets (Davidson) and Minnesota Vikings (Doepner). Katie Sowers is on the San Francisco 49ers’ coaching staff, the second woman to be a full-time NFL assistant.

The women who attended the forum in Orlando – 220 two years ago and 50 in 2017 – are early in their potential career paths. Callie Brownson of Mount Vernon, Va., interned in the Jets’ scouting department last year.



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