At this year’s Pro Bowl in Orlando, Fla., the NFL hosted the first-ever Women’s Careers in Football Forum. The two-day long event, held in conjunction with USA Football’s 2017 Women’s World Football Games at ESPN Wide World of Sports, aimed to give 250 female tackle football players and coaches from around the globe an unique opportunity to network with NFL personnel and to hear from a variety of guest speakers. The educational forum provided the participants with information on how to take the necessary steps toward attaining a career in professional football.
Lining the first panel was Bills Owner and Owner/President of Pegula Sports and Entertainment, Kim Pegula. Sitting alongside Pegula was Atlanta Falcons Assistant General Manager Scott Pioli, RSE Ventures Executive of Strategy and Development Dawn Aponte and NFL Senior Vice President of Football Operations Kimberly Fields. The group kicked off the event with an insightful discussion on career paths in football operations.
With many different avenues available to achieve a role in this particular side of the industry, Pegula explained that for her, it all started with a love for the game, which she developed at a young age.
“Growing up with two older brothers, I got interested in the game and became a fan,” said Pegula. “But then coming into ownership and seeing how important football is to the community, I got to fall in love with the game all over again.”
A leader in the NFL and throughout Western New York, Pegula’s inspiring message resonated through the room. Humble and grateful, she discussed the importance of hard work, perseverance and diversity in sports.
“All of our fans are so diverse that in order to meet the needs of those fans, we have to be diverse too,” said Pegula. “We need to reflect the diversity of our fan base in order to grow our sport. We want to give our fans what they need, and that answer isn't one size fits all.”
Whether it be a role in football operations, scouting or coaching, Pegula hopes that her encouragement, support and tips for success can help the women reach their goals.
“These women…can help me as much as I can help them,” said Pegula when reflecting on the forum. “The grassroots really is important for them to get ahead…especially in football operations. So the more we can encourage them to start at any level, and to just participate, learn as much as they can, it just allows for more women to have those opportunities.”