WFA named the winners of the 2021 Breaking Barriers Awards, given to those outstanding women who have claimed their places among the pioneers of women’s sports.
The award recipients represent the biggest names in women’s football, and their accomplishments have helped bring women’s professional tackle football onto the national stage. From the first ever female college football coach to the first woman coach to win the Super Bowl, these women have set the standard that women both belong and excel in football.
- Jennifer King, NFL Coach, Washington Football Team. Coach King became the first black woman to become a full-time coach in the NFL following her promotion to assistant running back coach for Washington in 2021
- Lori Locust, NFL Coach, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Coach Locust became the first female position coach in the NFL and third female full-time assistant coach in NFL history. She went on to become the first female coach, along with assistant strength and conditioning coach Maral Javadifar, to win a Super Bowl when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV on February 7th, 2021.
- Callie Brownson, NFL Coach, Cleveland Browns. In September 2018, Callie Brownson became the first woman hired as a full-time NCAA Division I coach when she was hired by Dartmouth College. She also became the first woman to coach an NFL position group in a regular-season game when she filled in for the Cleveland Browns tight ends coach Drew Petzing in a Week 12 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on November 29, 2020. She filled in for passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea during the Week 17 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and for Petzing again during the Browns’ first game of the 2020–21 NFL playoffs.
- Andra Douglas, Owner, NY Sharks, Author, Black and Blue. In 2000, Andra purchased the NY Sharks Football Team. After nineteen full seasons of play, Andra sold the team but the New York Sharks retired arguably as the “winningest” and longest operating women’s tackle football team in the world, boasting a nineteen season record that includes 10 Division Titles, 5 East Coast Championships, 2 National Titles (2002, 2018) and 1 International Title. The NY Sharks were the most widely women’s football team covered by the media, having appeared on national shows including “American Gladiator,” ABC’s “The View” with Barbara Walters and “Live with Regis and Kathy Lee.” The Sharks have been featured on NBC Sports, in Sports Illustrated and on ESPN. The City of New York invited the team to City Hall for a ceremony declaring August 9th, 2010, to be New York Sharks Day. In 2019, Andra released her first book, “Black and Blue; Love, Sports and the Art of Empowerment,” which begins with her life experience as a non-conforming female growing up in a conservative rural environment, and the subsequent unfurling of her life as an empowered executive and pioneer for women in American football.
- Viridiana Lieberman, Director, Born to Play. Viri is a filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY. In 2020, she was a highlighted honoree in DOC NYC’s 40 Under 40 list with her solo directorial debut, Born To Play, premiering on ESPN and ABC. Born To Play follows the Boston Renegades, a semi-professional women’s tackle football team on a path for redemption after losing the national championship the previous year. An avid sports fan, Viridiana is also the author of Sports Heroines on Film: A Critical Study of Cinematic Women Athletes, Coaches and Owners, published by McFarland. She recently completed editing the first episode of Through Our Eyes, a new documentary series for Sesame Workshop on HBO and an ESPN 30 for 30 titled Breakaway featuring Maya Moore, both set for July 2021 releases.
- Kathy Kuras, Director, Open Field Kathy is co-founder of Vanguard Muse, an independent music and film company. Open Field, her first feature documentary film, premiered at the Austin Film Festival in 2020 and won the Best Documentary Audience Award at the Riverside International Film Festival. Kathy also led the development of the first video storytelling production department for the national office of the YMCA. Vanguard Muse’s first studio album, ATLANTIS, with Sami Grisafe received 6 Grammy pre-nominations.