I know I can do it.
With those words, Florida high school football has been forever changed. On February 8th, Miami Jackson High School named Lakatriona Brunson its first female football coach in the history of the state.
She’s not just a football coach. She is the HEAD FOOTBALL COACH of the Jackson Generals.
In the wake of Dr. Jen Welter and Kathryn Smith being hired this past year in the NFL, Brunson’s hiring is another triumph in the male-dominated sport of football. Much like Welter and Smith, Brunson has some football playing experience behind her.
Playing on the defensive line for the Independent Women’s Football League’s Miami Fury, Brunson once told the Sun Sentinel she modeled her game after “Warren Sapp, Jason Taylor, Bryant McKinnie”, just to name a few. All of whom were players with attitude.
Brunson brought that same attitude to television viewers in the reality show, South Beach Tow. Dealing with offensive line players and quarterbacks is one thing. Dealing with pissed off folks who are getting their cars repossessed…well…that’s another.
It might be easy for some to think of this as a publicity stunt. Those without knowledge of the Florida high school football scene could think that, especially with the hiring of Luther Campbell (yes, 2 Live Crew’s Luther Campbell). But, those folks don’t understand how long Campbell has been around South Florida football.
“At first I thought ‘this [expletive] might be crazy because I take football real serious,” Campbell told the Miami Herald. Talking with Coach Brunson allayed any fears Campbell may have had about working under a woman. “She knows her football. She’s on point. I don’t take this as a joke. I didn’t want to be part of no circus.”
Brunson agreed. “We’re just here to change the atmosphere at Miami Jackson and get some W’s on the board,” Brunson said in her introductory press conference. “We’re here to make Miami Jackson be contenders and win.”
With Brunson as head coach and Campbell as associate head coach and defensive coordinator, they’ll seek to raise the profile for a team that finished 3-6 overall (2-3 district) in 2015 playing in the competitive District 16-5A of Dade County. In 2014, then-coach Earl Little, Sr led the Generals to the playoffs and a Soul Bowl win over rival Northwestern. It was the team’s first Soul Bowl win since 2002.
If the pressure of Florida high school football isn’t enough, being the first female head coach in the state certainly adds to it. “I’ve coached since I was in high school so this isn’t anything new for me,” Brunson said. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t (on feeling she has more to prove).”
“I was blessed to get out of Miami to see other things. I think that’s just my objective – to get these kids out of Miami Jackson, out of Miami period to see other things. To be able to go on and be able to bring it back here and do the same thing I’m doing right now. My objective is to be here to just help these kids.”
Welter, Smith and now Brunson. With each hire, women are breaking new barriers in football coaching ranks.
For me, it’s not about breaking barriers. It’s about being given an opportunity, regardless of gender. If a woman has the qualifications, gender shouldn’t disqualify her from being considered. If a man is better qualified and fits what the employer, team or otherwise is looking for then the man should get the job.
But, if a woman is better qualified, hire her.
Because she can do it.