Rockingham County native Jennifer King, who played softball and basketball at Guilford College and coached at Greensboro College, could be hired by the Washington Redskins to become the NFL’s first full-time female African American coach, a source tells the Washington Post.
King, a Rockingham County High School graduate and the former coach of the Johnson & Wales University women’s basketball team in Charlotte, worked as a coaching intern for Redskins coach Ron Rivera when he was with the Carolina Panthers the last two summers and has been working as an assistant coach on the Dartmouth College football team.
The Athletic first reported the Redskins’ interest in hiring King.
King, 35, also played in the Women’s Football Alliance, winning a national championship with the New York Sharks, according to the Post’s Les Carpenter. As a basketball coach, she led Johnson & Wales to a U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association national championship in 2018.
Before going to Johnson & Wales, King helped lead the Greensboro women to a 176-70 overall mark, including four USA South regular-season championships and three USA South tournament championships, according to the college’s web site. The Pride also made four appearances in the NCAA Division III women’s basketball tournament, including a trip to the Sweet Sixteen in 2011, with King on the bench.
King, who was born in Eden and lived in Reidsville, graduated from Guilford in 2006.
“All those friendships that I’ve built from Guilford; I still talk to a ton of people I went to school with,” King said in a video profile posted by the college in 2018. “Guilford laid the groundwork for me for diversity, which is obviously huge in coaching.”
The sport management major earned Guilford’s top athletics honor, the Nereus C. English Athletic Leadership Award and the school’s 2005 Best Undergraduate Female Athlete Award, according to the college. She also was named Best Female Athlete as a senior and received the Jack Jensen Ideal Student-Athlete prize.
King was a star player on coach Woody Wall’s Rockingham County basketball team that reached the state championship game in 2002. She played in the N.C. Coaches Association’s East-West All-Star Game in Greensboro and earned All-Area from the News & Record.
King told the Panthers website that she met Rivera at a woman’s forum during that year’s Pro Bowl. He invited her to speak to the team and eventually invited her to be a coaching intern.
In 2018, she worked with Panthers receivers. Last summer, she assisted running backs coach Jake Peetz, even taking over the group for a brief time that summer when Peetz’s wife had a baby.
“I was kind of timid at first, but then I noticed some things I was seeing I would hear somebody else tell them later,” King told the Panthers site during her first summer with the team. “I was like, ‘I guess I should have shared that with them.’ I think the relationship with the players has been great. Our receiver room is a bunch of guys who are really hard working. I think they are going to surprise a bunch of people this year because I think every position has talent and can really do some things.”
King said she is friends with San Francisco 49ers assistant Katie Sowers, who last week became the first full-time female assistant to coach in the Super Bowl.
“This is an untapped source. There’s a lot of forward thinkers in this room,” Rivera told attendees at a women’s career in football forum last year. “We’re in a production-based business. It’s all about winning, and we’ve got to create that opportunity to win. It doesn’t matter who you are — if you bring something special to the table and help us, we most certainly want you.”