Here at Compete Magazine we’ve been talking a lot and sharing the story of Dr. Jen Welter whom (if you’ve been keeping up with Compete Magazine) has recently released her book “Play Big” to share her story of being the first female coach of the NFL on the sidelines with the Arizona Cardinals and the first woman to play professional American Football in a men’s league when she took the field with the Texas Revolution. 


About 2 months ago, I had the pleasure to meet Dr. Welter at the 2017 Compete Magazine Sports Diversity Awards where she was being honored for her impact and leading the way for young girls and woman to defy gender stereotypes and become anything they truly want to be. Although I didn’t know much about her when I met her, my first impression was that she was unapologetically authentic and a very confident, kind, person that you can immediately establish a personal connection with.


Of course she brought copies of her new book “Play Big” and of course with my favorite reading topics tend to be sports and sports autobiographies, I had to get my hands on a copy. (She even autographed it for me, Thanks Dr. Jen!) Having just finished reading it, I can tell you I really appreciated learning her story and hearing about her experiences as a woman breaking into the ultimate “man’s world.” While I will leave the details for you to read yourself, she talks about her famous notecards that she wrote for each player of the Cardinals during her time coaching with them and the impact that they had on each player. She also leaves “notecards” and insights into her philosophy throughout the book that the reader can apply to their own lives. Her insights always come with a personal reflection or story that she describes in the book and all from lessons that she has learned in her own experiences. Adding a personal perspective to her philosophy and advice as a coach, player, woman and person you can better understand the kind of impact and insight she had and continues to have.


The biggest thing I took away from Dr. Jen Welter’s story, besides her awesome “Flaming Manicure” story, is that no matter what you do or pursue in your life; you must always be 100% your authentic self. No matter who you are or what you do, the most important thing is you going for you is the things that make you unique as a person. We all have strengths and weaknesses and Dr. Jen remarks that by using your strengths to your best effort while working on your weaknesses, you can establish yourself in whatever it is you’re doing. Dr. Jen recognizes that if she had been anything less then her authentic self, she would have never made it to the NFL. Again using her personal experiences to establish a personal connection with her readers, just like she has done with her athletes, fellow coaches, teammates, friends and family.


What I’ve learned most from “Play Big” is that you can truly have an impact with taking action. Dr. Jen never sought to break the “glass ceiling (sideline?)” because all she wanted to do was play some football for the love of the sport. Playing 15 years of professional women’s football and what her and her teammates had to do to make that happen really makes it a passion of theirs. By taking every opportunity that came her way and going forward to “play big” with her 100% best effort, she let her passion carry her beyond any limits and anybody that might have tried to stop her.


I highly recommend getting a copy of her book for yourself. Check her out at  


By Dirk Smith