SAN MARCOS, Texas — Jada Gipson is laying the groundwork for her football dreams.
She started out with the equipment team at Texas State University, but for the past two seasons the senior has served as a student assistant coach for the Bobcats. This is her first step in a coaching career that she has coveted for years.
“Spav Coach [Jake Spavital] did a great job of letting me get involved in everything and treating me like anyone else and giving me the same opportunity,” Gipson said.
His desire to coach football at first didn’t seem achievable. Women like Kathryn Smith and Katie Sowers changed Gipson’s outlook when they became full-time National Football League coaches a few years ago.
“I knew I wanted to coach, but I didn’t think I could because I didn’t see anyone doing it,” Gipson said. “When I saw people doing it, I was like okay, it’s possible now.”
Now, Gipson is one of the women helping to change secondary demographics.
“When I first started contacting them, it was very early,” Gipson said of contacting other female coaches. “They tell me, ‘you’re in a good position, just keep growing every day, learning and improving yourself’.”
Gipson was one of 40 attendees at the NFL Women’s Careers in Football Forum in February. This summer, she was selected for a Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship with the Cleveland Browns.
“I worked with defensive backs, learning from coach Brandon Lynch,” Gipson said. “He was brilliant. He’s a brilliant coach, a brilliant person to learn from. He taught me everything.”
It’s another line on an ever-growing coaching resume.
“She shows up every day,” Texas State coach Jake Spavital said. “It’s a tough profession. It’s early mornings, long nights, especially when you’re a student. She dedicates that time.
She also earns the admiration of Bobcats players in the process.
“They trust me,” said Gipson, who helps coach inside linebackers. “They respect me enough to know that I know what I’m doing to help them.”
The job could make Gipson the first full-time FBS-level assistant after graduating in the spring.
“I trust myself. I know I know the information,” Gipson said. “I’m learning every day. I just need to keep improving.”
“She is a great asset to our program and I think she has a very bright future in this profession,” Spavital said.
It’s a profession she now wants others to enter as well.
“When I didn’t know anything, I reached out to the NFL coaches,” Gipson said. “They helped me, so I try to share my knowledge with young coaches who are trying to move up in the business.”
His presence changes the makeup of the sidelines and the football coaching fraternity for years to come.