WASHINGTON — The football team at Dartmouth College is finally kicking off its season Saturday. The Mean Green are hosting the Georgetown Hoyas, who are already 1-1 on the season, leading the new offensive quality control coach to quip that just means there’s more film to dissect for a game plan.
It’s the kind of thing you’d expect a “football guy” to say, but the coach making that comment is Callie Brownson, an Alexandria, Virginia, native hired over the summer by Dartmouth football coach Buddy Teevens.
She’s the first woman hired as a full-time Division 1 coach. She was offered the job after an internship that gave her a deep dive into the world of college football.
“At the college level, being a coach in any capacity requires you to have your hand in many different hats,” Brownson said. “There’s an operations aspect of it, there’s a recruiting aspect of it, there’s a scouting aspect of it.”
Getting a foot near the door, much less in it, can be difficult. Coaching jobs often end up going to former players and other people head coaches have a connection to in a profession that Brownson acknowledges is “close knit.”
“For me, I always wanted to play in high school and never got the opportunity,” said Brownson, “which obviously then closes the door to anything on the collegiate level.”
She added: “It’s definitely, at this moment in time, very difficult for women because we don’t have the same feeder programs and opportunities that men do. A lot of people who make it to this level in coaching, recruiting, and scouting are former collegiate players, former professional players and, obviously, women don’t have that gateway or segue into the industry.”
Still, she said Teevans wants to change that.
“In his mind, as well as mine — and hopefully after things like this, in everybody else’s mind — there’s really no reason women shouldn’t be more involved in football,” said Brownson.
Brownson’s first job in football was on the coaching staff at Mount Vernon High School in Alexandria — her alma mater. In addition to all the coaching clinics she’s attended and worked out, Brownson has had help from some big names along the way to help her get in the door.
For instance, one of her college professors at George Mason University was Charlie Casserly, the former general manager of the Washington Redskins.
“He’s been a great motivator,” Brownson said. “He’s been a phenomenal resource. He’s been very helpful, he’s super receptive, he’s been a huge advocate of mine.”
Another resource now at her disposal is the wide receivers coach at Dartmouth, who she also worked closely with during her internship at Dartmouth over the summer.
Diehard NFL fans will know Dartmouth alum David Shula from his time coaching the Cincinnati Bengals. But even casual fans recognize the last name, because his dad is Don Shula, who has won more games as an NFL head coach than anyone else.
“He called me about two weeks before my internship … and he and I had a great talk before I got up here and he was just so excited and really on board with me coming up,” she said. “He was really engaged with being able to help me grow and help me learn, and what better resource?”
She called him a phenomenal person and a phenomenal coach.
“Yeah, this is the kind of stuff you dream about, for these opportunities,” she said.
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