The Carolina Panthers made history hiring their first female coach.
Jennifer King was hired by the Panthers as an interim coach. King is the women’s basketball coach at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte. Jourdan Rodrigue of The Charlotte Observer profiled King about her life and career and how it led to her coaching at the Panthers’ spring organized team activities.
King, 33, arrived without fanfare to the Panthers staff for the spring’s organized team activities and will stay through this week’s minicamp, working mostly with the receivers alongside Lance Taylor and Jerricho Cotchery.
She is the first female coaching intern ever hired in Carolina, but Panthers head coach Ron Rivera has known of her for a couple of years.
He has worked with the NFL’s career development symposiums, usually held during the Pro Bowl.
King has attended the symposiums for the past couple of years in an effort to wedge her foot in any door she could.
“I went to the Women’s NFL Careers forum in Orlando in February,” said King. “They single out some of the better candidates who might find opportunity, and we get a chance to meet a lot of executives. I met Coach Rivera there. We kind of connected, and obviously I’m right next door.”
Rivera held on to her resume, and she followed up, asking him to speak to some of her athletes in Charlotte.
He also gave her some advice: Stay ready, in case the opportunity comes.
And in her case, it did.
“I think the most important thing I learned from him was to be prepared,” she said. “We’re obviously given an opportunity to get a foot in the door. But you have to be prepared when you get there.”