No female coach had ever been on a Super Bowl-winning staff. The Buccaneers had 2.

Jack Baer
·5 min read

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are Super Bowl champions after routing the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-9. With the win, a pair of assistants on the team’s coaching staff have made history.

Buccaneers assistant defensive line coach Lori Locust and assistant strength and conditioning coach Maral Javadifar are now the first female coaches to ever work on a Super Bowl-winning staff. Both women are in their second seasons working under Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians.

Other women in the Buccaneers organization include scouting assistant Carly Helfand and director of football research Jackie Davidson.

Before this season, the female coach to get closest to a title was former San Francisco 49ers offensive assistant Katie Sowers, who became the first woman to coach in a Super Bowl last year. Female coaches are becoming increasingly common in the NFL as a record six women, including Locust and Javadifar, coached in this season’s wild-card weekend. The Buccaneers remain the only team in the NFL with multiple women on their coaching staff.

With much attention on Tom Brady, Arians and the many notable players on the Buccaneers’ roster, some made sure to congratulate Locust and Javadifar for breaking through one more glass ceiling:

Who are Lori Locust and Maral Javadifar?

The Buccaneers' female coaches earned their spot on an NFL coaching staff. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
The Buccaneers' female coaches earned their spot on an NFL coaching staff. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Locust’s hiring by the Buccaneers was an accomplishment years in the making. A student at Temple University the same time Arians was head coach of the football program there, Locust met her future boss only a handful of times, according to PennLive.

After college, the Associated Press reports Locust went into the insurance industry, got married and had two sons. Coaching football wasn’t an option for a woman in the 1980s. Locust reportedly entered the sport when she started playing in a women’s league around the age of 40. Once injuries started building up, she began coaching her former teammates, then took a job at her alma mater Susquehanna Township High as an unpaid assistant for nine years.

From there, she was coaching in semi-pro leagues, a women’s league and youth leagues, per the AP. She attended the NFL’s annual Women’s Careers in Football Forum in 2017 and 2018, later getting a job in the Alliance of American Football until the league folded.

Looking for an NFL gig, Locust found her way in thanks to an email and some connections. According to PennLive, Locust’s ex-husband played under Arians and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. She emailed Arians after he took over in Tampa Bay, and was soon coaching the Buccaneers’ defensive line, arguably the team’s most impressive unit in Super Bowl LV.

Javadifar was born in Iran, where her mother wasn’t even allowed to watch sports, she told Yahoo Sports’ Shalise Manza Young. She and her mother fled the country in 1984 and settled in Queens. She played basketball at Pace University and earned a doctorate in physical therapy. She was receiving interest from NBA teams as a therapist before Arians offered her a job:

“You have to understand, this is not just something that’s done because of checking boxes, it’s not done because of an initiative, it’s who [Bruce] is and has always been,” Locust said. “That’s why I think it works so well here, is he’s gathered individuals that he knows will benefit the organization.

“He has people he can trust around him and it doesn’t matter what we look like; he’s put together that staff because it’s people that he feels will help the team win. And clearly that combination has worked.”

Locust and Javadifar weren’t only women on Super Bowl field

In addition to Locust and Javadifar making history, Sarah Thomas became the first woman to ever officiate in the Super Bowl. Thomas worked as the downs judge Sunday, finishing her sixth season as a full-time official on the NFL’s biggest stage.

That accomplishment earned Thomas a shout-out from First Lady Jill Biden:

Buccaneers have NFL’s most diverse staff

Not only do the Buccaneers have multiple women on their coaching staff, they are also the only NFL team with an all-Black group of coordinators under Arians.

In fact, the Bucs’ top four highest-ranking assistants are all Black: offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong and assistant head coach/run game coordinator Harold Goodwin.

Arians is well-known as one of the NFL’s foremost champions of diversity. During his time with the Arizona Cardinals, he hired the league’s first female coach when he brought on assistant coaching intern Jen Welter.

It’s an outlook that has clearly worked.

Super Bowl LV from Yahoo Sports: