Brown University Now Has The First Female Position Coach In NCAA D-1 Football History

Brown University promoted Heather Marini to quarterbacks coach, making her the first female position coach in Division I history, the school announced Monday.

Marini joined Brown’s coaching staff in 2019 and started off as an offensive quality control coach before being promoted to quarterbacks coach. Prior to working at Brown, the Australia native also worked as a summer scouting specialist for the New York Jets, served as head coach of the Monash Warriors Gridiron Club for three seasons in Melbourne and played football competitively for Gridiron Victoria Women’s Tackle Football and Monash Warriors Women’s Gridiron, where she was team captain. During her playing career, Marini won Rookie of the Year, earned First Team All-State honors, and was named her team’s offensive MVP.

In recent years, there has been an increased push to hire more women, even in professional football, a historically white male-dominated sport. As noted in an SBNation article from last month, Samantha Rapoport, the NFL’s director of development, “has been addressing the lack of women in coaching and scouting roles at the pro level since the league hired her in 2016.” One of the initiatives Rapoport has worked on is the league’s Women’s Careers in Football Forum, which takes place during the NFL Scouting Combine and aims to educate and connect qualified female candidates working in football operations. According to the article, eight women were hired as full-time assistants or coaching interns in the forum’s first two years, and “nearly 40 positions have been filled by women who’ve participated in the forum since it launched, with 20 of those opportunities coming this year alone.”

Brown’s newest quarterbacks coach, Marini, even attended the Forum herself in 2018 and that’s where she met Brown head coach James Perry.

But while the NFL has made some concerted efforts to introduce more women into its coaching pipelines — see Katie Sowers, the first female and openly gay coach to coach in a Super Bowl — many NCAA schools are still stuck in the past. According to a study by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, there are no female head coaches in NCAA Division I football. Additionally, women only make up 6.9% of athletic directors and there is only one female conference commissioner in Division I. A 2018 report found that 59% of women’s teams are coached by a man, almost 48 years after Title IX was passed. Women have a hard enough time coaching women’s teams let alone trying to make it onto a men’s football coaching staff.

Hopefully, one day soon, we will get to see more Heather Marini’s on the sidelines, in the locker rooms and in the boardrooms.