If you look around the NFL, you won’t find any female general managers. You won’t find female head coaches. You won’t find any female players.

But if you search the game of football outside the NFL, you’ll find female fans, enthusiasts, strategists, analysts, innovators, coaches and players. A lot of them, in fact.

Thursday’s training camp practice at One Buc Place was markedly different than previous sessions. It wasn’t just that the start time of practice was at 6:30 p.m. in the evening for the first time, though that did help give it a unique feel. But there were crowds all the way up and down every sideline of the Advent Health Training Center nearly two hours before the start of practice. There were stations with pictures and uniforms, paintings and sign-up sheets. And there were lines formed all over the indoor field with footballs being kicked, passed, and toted.

It was the Buccaneers’ annual Women of Red night, an event that has been going on for five years now. It is put on by the team to give more women an opportunity to get involved with the game they love and the team they cheer for.

Bucs assistant DL coach Lori Locust
Bucs assistant DL coach Lori Locust – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

In its five years of existence, the Women of Red event has become a staple of the female fan base in the Bucs community. Buccaneers co-owner Darcie Glazer Kassewitz said that 1,500 women signed up to come to the event this year; given how filled the stands were once practice began, the number of those who attended felt close to that.

Kassewitz has been at the forefront of aiming to increase diversity in football for years. In 2018 and 2019, Kassewitz served as a leader for the Women’s Careers in Football Forums held in Indianapolis during the NFL Scouting Combine. The goal at these forums is to discuss, share, and network – and to find more ways to get more women involved in what is one of the male-dominated areas of the sports world.

Nearly half of all NFL fans are female, and yet the representation they have at the professional level for a sport they love doesn’t even come close to that proportion. In 2017, roughly 35 percent of management positions in NFL offices were held by women, but on the team side of administrative positions, that figure plummeted to 20 percentage. It drops again significantly when it comes to any coaching positions.

Those numbers won’t change overnight, and some might never get close to an even split. (The percentage of female players in the NFL is zero, obviously, and that seems like a faraway final frontier in this fight.) But what’s important to Kassewitz and others fighting to carve out spaces for women is that, no matter what the peak percentage may be, women who love football in any form or fashion should have the opportunity to engage as fans — or coaches, or scouts, or whatever — without underlying systematic and historical discrimination undermining them.

That’s the purpose of Women of Red: to bring to light the fact that football can very much be female.

Kassewitz and the Buccaneers have been putting actions behind their words when it comes to leading the charge of that movement. Kassewitz announced on Thursday night that, in addition to all they do with Women of Red, the Buccaneers have donated flag football equipment to numerous middle schools and after school programs around the Tampa Bay area, and earlier this year held the largest women’s high school flag football event in the nation.

“We’re doing a lot of things,” Kassewitz said. “We are now donating flag football equipment to every middle school in Hillsborough and Pinellas County. We’re reaching 35,000 girls every year with the message that football is not just for boys.”

But it’s not just outside the walls of One Buc Place where the Buccaneers are making a difference in diversity. On the inside, the Buccaneers are the first team in NFL history to have two full-time female coaches on staff: Maral Javadifar, an assistant strength and conditioning coach, and Lori Locust, an assistant defensive line coach. In addition to those hires on the coaching staff, the Buccaneers have also hired a female scouting assistant, Carly Helfand.

“It’s very exciting for us to be the first in the NFL to have two female coaches,” Kassewitz said. “I think they’re inspirational for so many kids — so many girls — to know that they can be on the football side, too.”

“I think that we put so much effort into what we’re doing,” Kassewitz said. “We can lead the way. And hopefully lot of other [NFL] teams will follow, as well.”

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Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: [email protected]

12 COMMENTS

  1. Should be Best person for the job regardless race or sex. Don’t discriminate, but don’t hire just because want to say you have woman on staff either.

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  2. when you’ve lost 11 years in a row this is not the stuff anyone cares about. we need to win. all this side stuff is a joke. How leading the charge for the winning movement

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  3. I am all for women’s rights , However this team needs be focused on fixing there problems, The hiring of 2 womens coaches was not for football reasons, coaching staffs are limited by NFL and every coach is worth his weight in gold to a NFL team, hiring 2 coaches that have zero former NFL experience shows this team still is not taking it situation seriously.

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  4. Its a catch 22 If the patriots hired female coach it would have meaning, problem is the Patriots would not hurt their team to make a statement, when the projected 29th team in NFL hires female coaches it is a pure clown show that when it’s all over will set back the hiring of female coaches 10 years.

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  5. Can she play QB ? Lmao

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  6. How is she at right guard?
    I don’t care if he/she is a Martian. Can they coach? Can they help us WIN? Enough PC. This is football. The score counts. Everything else is window dressing.

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  7. She played Defensive Line and has coached for like 20 years and interned with Baltimore. The best Coaches are the ones that had to work their ass off to learn the techniques and plays because it wasn’t just natural talent or even a game they were seen as being able to play. Lori Locust has as much NFL experience as a lot of Assistant Position Coaches do when getting their first gig which is nothing but an Internship. Stop with the Macho insecurities and realize you have the same opinion as the biggest Troll on the site. That should make you think Hahaha

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    • There goes Spitfire automatic defence of every stupid move the Bucs make, I would bet Spitfire has 10-15 ghost accounts to hit negatives on any one who criticizes the dumb moves this team makes.
      Ya Spitfire the Defensive line coach played girls high school flag football , Suh, Veta and others do not give a sh-t what this coach says or does. It is for show to make Darcie Glazer happy……………………………

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  8. I think this is a good cause. Bucs needed to bring some life to their brand due to years of neglect. The fact this event is going on five years strong shows it is actually building a fanbase right here in Tampa Bay.

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  9. Even though I just checked one of their most popular sites and the most recent post Has been up for 3 hours and not one comment yet. So there goes that excuse!!!

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  10. If anyone has ghost accounts on here we all know it’s Ass. I don’t think there’s any question about that Hahahahahaha

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  11. When you can’t win football games, get involved in social issues…takes the focus off of how awful a franchise this is. smh

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