Being a woman in today’s NFL isn’t easy, but it is filled with trailblazers who make history and clear a path for more women to follow in their footsteps. The league has consistently seen an increasing number of women in the league, making progress from the sidelines to the front office to refereeing.
Some odd years ago, there were only a handful of women across the league. At one point, it was rare to see a woman working for teams; now, it is becoming commonplace. To highlight this breaking of barriers, the NFL is doing a series called “Next Woman Up,” where they spotlight some of the women making an impact in the league.
The NFL website writes, “Women are rising up the ranks throughout professional football, earning positions of power in a space that for too long was ruled almost exclusively by men. We’re seeing more and more women breaking barriers in the sport, but what are the stories beyond the headlines? Who are the women shaping and influencing the NFL today?”
For the Falcons, it is Sarah Hogan, who is Atlanta’s Assistant Director of Coaching Operations. Here are some highlights from the interview, but please be sure to give the full piece a read. Note, these aren’t the full quotes, only the ones I thought to be interesting.
How did you get your start in a career in football?
My true start was in college at James Madison University. I started working in the football office, volunteering for four years, and it felt natural for me to be around the team and help them. Then I was fortunate that the college where my dad coached at the time, Hofstra, is where the New York Jets had training camp. I interned with the Jets for a few summers.
I worked for the scouting department, and I actually came away from that internship wanting to work in community relations. I went to school to get my masters in campus recreation before realizing I wanted to work in athletics. I went to the University of Maryland and that was where I actually discovered the position of director of football operations. After that, I had the opportunity to get my foot in the door at Northeastern with my first full-time position.
So, essentially, you built your role to what it is in the Falcons organization today?
I did. The person who was here before me worked a more standard 9-5 job Monday through Friday. When I came in, I was like, “What’s my role on game day because I’m not not working?” I created the coordinator of head coach operations title because I wanted it to be more than the executive assistant to the head coach. I wanted to do that job, of course, but not just that job.
Do you have any mentors who have influenced your career?
One of my mentors is Steve Scarnecchia, who’s now chief of staff for the Jets. He taught me so much in his six years in Atlanta. He’s a rock star and I am really trying to model myself after him because he is so knowledgeable. I strive to be where he is as far as a director role. Then I would say all of the coaches I’ve been with at every level during my career. They’ve all supported and trusted me.
The Falcons have been at the forefront of breaking barriers and impacting football in more ways than one. Arthur Blank has been a lead voice in the nation’s effort to improve equality. Now, it is Sarah Hogan who is the one making a difference for all women who aspire to one day work at the highest levels in this sport.
Photographer: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire