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Bucs make history by hiring two female assistant coaches

By Ken Filler
Mar. 22, 2019

The Tampa bay Buccaneers made history this week and for once it wasn’t because of something that did or didn’t do on the field.

The Bucs became the first NFL team to hire two female coaches to full time positions on the coaching staff.

Bruce Arians had stated previously at the combine that he wanted to hire at least one female assistant coach and this week that became a reality with the hiring of two female assistant coaches. 

Lori Locust was hired as assistant defensive line coach and Maral Javadifar was hired as assistant strength and conditioning coach.

Locust most recently was an assistant coach with the Birmingham Iron of the AAF, while Javadifar was a physical therapist and performance trainer in Virginia.

The question that is being asked by a lot of Buccaneer fans is Why would the Bucs hire one female assistant coach let alone bring two on board? Are they really qualified to coach their positions? Or were these women hired just as token hires, just to check the box on some EEOC report?

Lori Locust and Bruce Arians have know each other a long time as their relationship goes all the way back to 1983 when Arians coached at Temple University and Locust was a student.

Locust grew up a die hard fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970’s and Jack Lambert was her favorite player.

Before being hired by the Birmingham Iron, Locust coached at her alma mater Susquehanna Township High School from 2010-2018. Locust also played on a womens football team and coached for a womens professional indoor football team.

She also interned with the Baltimore Ravens last summer during training camp.

Locust says she is ready to get to work. “I’m just ready to get to work,” Locust said in a phone interview Thursday with PennLive. “I need to learn a whole system, a whole new set of terminology. I don’t ever want to be behind the curve.”

Arians in a statement released by the Bucs had this to say about the two female coaches he added to the staff. “I have known Lori going back to my days at Temple University and I’ve seen firsthand just how knowledgeable and passionate she is about this game. I was equally impressed with Maral’s background in performance training and physical therapy and I know she will be a valuable asset to our strength and conditioning program.”

Another question that may arise is how will the NFL players react to coaching from a female? Someone that has never been played in an NFL game? Numerous teams have had female interns in training camp the last few years as the NFL has opened its doors for female candidates to get the opportunity to learn from NFL coaches and there has been zero problems.

Locust had this to say about the coaching of male football players “I’ve never had a problem with a player,” Locust said. “No one has ever treated me as anything but as a coach. Players are able to see through somebody who’s not being authentic. I can talk to them about scheme and when I played. I really don’t operate differently than any other coach.”

“I think there’s a mutual respect. I certainly respect the players for all the work they put into their craft, and I honor that and they just want to get better at the end of the day.”

Javadifar comes to the Bucs with a ton of experience in physical therapy and personal training.”

Javadifar played basketball at Pace University in New York and earned her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from New York Medical College.

She comes to the Bucs from Virginia were she was working as a physical therapist and a personal trainer. 

The NFL is actually behind the NBA in hiring women coaches. Greg Popovich in San Antonio has had Becky Harmon as his full time assistant coach since 2014, and there are currently three female assistant coaches right now in the NBA.

It’s obvious from looking at the background and credentials of Locust and Javadifar that they are both qualified to take on these roles with the Bucs and they are not just token hires. 

Arians had one of the largest coaching staffs in NFL history with 25 assistants before the hiring of the two female assistant coaches.