The NFL has added another female to its officiating department, the league announced on Thursday.
Terri Valenti will be the league’s first female instant replay booth assistant starting next season. In her role, she will be initiating replays inside the final two minutes of each half when coaches cannot challenge plays.
Valenti will also help review other in-game replays. Prior to her now current position, she was an instant replay communicator for 49ers games.
The new position shouldn’t come as a surprise for Valenti. She was the first woman to officiate in a U.S. professional football league with the UFL. Valenti was also the 2015 Official of the Year in the Arena Football League and has coached at every major college level.
Valenti’s hire is another big step for women in the NFL. Sarah Thomas was hired as the first full-time referee in 2015. She told SB Nation in February that it doesn’t get exhausting discussing her hiring:
“Because you sit back, and you think, it was 2015 and there was still a gender barrier that needed to be broken in a major organization.”
For anybody that might think Thomas, or any other referee, struggles with certain calls in tough situations, she shot down that idea.
“We don’t consider them tough calls or easy calls; there’s just the rules,” she said. “We’re trained, and we see what we see and we call what we call.”
Roger Goodell said at the end of the 2010 season that the NFL was looking to add female officials and had two in mind. One of those was Valenti. "We actually have two officials that are females that are I think right on the edge of becoming NFL officials," he said, via Stanford Alumni.
"I think that it could happen very soon,” he added. “And I think it's a good thing for our sport."
Sure enough, it finally happened with Thomas two seasons ago. With Valenti’s role expanding the representation of women in the NFL, hopefully it will continue to open doors.