TEMPE, Ariz. -- The picture was worth the wait.
More than six weeks after meeting President Barack Obama at the White House during a celebration of Women’s History Month, Jen Welter received the photo of her and the president. And it went straight to her Instagram account.
Anything is possible... Even meeting @barackobama. Yet again, I never dreamed big enough to imagine this was possible. I did not start playing football with dreams of being the first female coach in the @nfl , but now that it has happened I am overwhelmed with the ripple effect for my #footballfamily. I love you all so much, and I am beyond honored to represent what we all sacrificed so much for. To have been welcomed in by the @whitehouse, not once, but now 3 times, astounds me, and it shows we are changing the game. For those of you who have commented on how small I am, well rest assured, so did the President. However clearly, you don't have to be big to PLAY BIG & to have a BIG IMPACT! I will say that one of the greatest moments of this journey has been when President Obama said, "And they've got role models like Dr. Welter, who once said, "My opportunity could create other opportunities, and I love everything about that." That's what all of you represent here. And that's the work that you've done together and with us these past seven years -- fighting for a better future for my daughters, but also for our sons." I am so thankful to all those who believe in me, push me to do more than I ever imagined, and for those who told me what I couldn't- shouldn't-& wouldn't do. All of you have been my motivation, and all of you will continue to be. To my @azcardinals Team I love you, and to @brucearians, You ARE a #trailblazer. Thank you for changing the game. And for the #whitehousecouncilonwomenandgirls thank you for elevating us all #stateofwomen and always #beElite
When Welter met Obama, he stood in front of the former Arizona Cardinals’ training camp intern and said he thought she’d be taller.
“The first thing he said to me was, ‘Coach, you’re a lot smaller than I thought you’d be. I always saw you handling up on those big guys,’ and I started laughing,” Welter said. “I said, ‘If I was much bigger I probably would’ve played basketball and you’d like me more. So, he laughed and he shook my hand and said, ‘No, I love everything that you’re doing.’”
Welter was invited to Washington in March by the White House Council on Women and Girls. She has spoken to the council in the past on the need for more female mentorship across the country.
Obama later spoke to an audience that included Welter about equality for women. Obama introduced Welter in the beginning of his speech and returned to her toward the end when he talked about how women don’t have glass ceilings anymore as they did when Obama’s grandmother couldn’t advance her career past being a vice president of a regional bank while she trained men to take over positions above her.
“And they’ve got role models like Dr. Welter, who once said, ‘My opportunity could create other opportunities, and I love everything about that.’ That's what all of you represent here,” Obama said. “And that's the work that you’ve done together and with us these past seven years -- fighting for a better future for my daughters, but also for our sons.”
Welter was surprised when he mentioned her again, not expecting Obama to quote her.
“I almost passed out at that point,” Welter joked. “I was like, ‘Did the president just quote me?’
“It was so thrilling because he started the White House Council on Women and Girls. Obviously he’s somebody who puts the opportunities for girls and women, in terms of equality first and foremost. It’s been a big thing for him and I think that’s why he’s been so respectful of his wife and why he’s such a good dad. For him to have admired that there was a female coaching in the NFL … it was just an amazing feeling. I couldn’t have imagined that the president of the United States would quote me in a speech.”
Meeting a sitting president was something Welter never imagined as a child. She was back at the White House last Thursday for an event relating to the United States of Women summit, which will be held June 14th at the White House. Welter said she’ll be speaking.
As the reality of visiting the White House multiple times and meeting the president in March sets in, Welter said it shows how much “our world has changed.”
“Football was the place that women weren’t supposed to go and now not only is it in there but it’s being recognized as a significant step for girls and women in our society as high up as the president,” she said. “That, to me, that’s not about me. That speaks so highly of what Bruce Arians and everyone at the Cardinals were a part of.
“It wasn’t just football. That’s an advancement of life.”