Growing up, a lot of us hear from family members and teachers that to be “buenas chicas” we must act a certain way. Cross our legs, stay calladitas, and above all, stay away from climbing trees and being active and athletic. Fortunately, the NFL’s newest assistant coach gave sayings and assertions like these no mind. The 26-year-old is the Raiders’ first female assistant coach and these days she’s dictating shots on the field to NFL players.
Kelsey Martinez is the Raiders’ first and only female strength and conditioning assistant coach.
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Martinez joined the league as an assistant coach to the Raiders in March of this past year. She’s the first female to join the team as an assistant coach, but she’s not the first in the NFL. That credit goes to Lee Brandon who became the Jets’ female strength coach back in 1990. In the years that followed Kathryn Smith became a full-time special teams quality control coach for the Bills and a season later Katie Sowers was brought on as an offensive assistant in 2017 for the Bills.
In an interview with Las Vegas Review-Journal, Raiders outside linebacker James Cowser spoke about what it has been like to work side by side with Martinez on the field.
“She’s super awesome,” Cowser, 27, said. “I mean, there’s a reason I went to Tom Shaw in the offseason, right? When I first met her, from the beginning, she opens her mouth, and you instantly know she knows what she’s talking about. It’s the same reaction here with all the guys. At first glance, you’re like, ‘Wow, that’s a woman.’ And then they start talking, and it’s, ‘Oh, that’s a coach.’ You know what I mean? It’s that instant switch of, ‘Oh, that’s interesting,’ to, ‘Oh, I need to get my feet up.’
In a message to the Review-Journal, Martinez encouraged women and young girls to keep asserting and pushing themselves.
— Zesty Raiders News (@zesty_raiders) April 22, 2018
“Don’t create limits on yourself,” Martinez said. “There’s many excuses or whatever that can be made, but at the end of the day, what do you love to do? I was able to find what I love to do, and that’s working for Jon Gruden every day. ‘Do you love football?’ That’s his number one question. Do you love football? Do you love what you do? Why limit yourself or who you are if that’s what you want?”
Every day, there are women out there who, in the pursuit of their own personal goals, make a little more space for women in a world dominated by men. It’s so exciting to see a Latina like Martinez create a space for herself in a setting that was made for men. Today, no other other teams in the NFL has women listed on their strength and conditioning staff. Here’s to Martinez for becoming the one and opening doors for so many other women while doing it!