ATLANTA – When you’ve done everything else Jen Welter has, making a shoe is easy. Welter was the first woman to play contact pro football (with the Texas Revolution of Champions Indoor Football), the first woman to coach in a men’s pro football league (also with the Revolution), the first woman to coach in the NFL (as an assistant with the Arizona Cardinals), and is now a defensive coach for the Atlanta Legends in the Alliance of American Football, which is starting its debut season in February.
The 41 year-old, who also holds a PhD in sport psychology, has always been committed to, as she puts it, “kicking glass.” It’s no surprise the glass motif is prominent on her custom 1-of-1 football cleats, which were developed at the adidas Speed Factory in Atlanta, along with other sayings she’s been known for over the years. What may be surprising is what these cleats represent.
“It’s probably one of the coolest landmarks in my career, because it was something that always bothered me when I was playing,” Welter says from a 7-on-7 tournament at Booker T. Washington High School on Thursday of Super Bowl week. “I’d have to wear tweener sizes, so I couldn’t ever wear the good cleats. Here I am, one of the best athletes in the world, and I have to wear junior cleats or soccer cleats.”
There was a true gap in need, as football becomes a more inclusive sport, to have a performance cleat for women. How could athletes be expected to perform at an elite level if they didn’t even have shoes designed for them?
“It was always something I really dreamt about,” Welter adds, “was having a female football cleat. Because to me, it was like, ‘How can you say men and women are equal, if we don’t have equal footwear?'”