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Bills add female coaching intern for season

Phoebe Schecter, who spent the last two summers as a coaching intern with the Buffalo Bills, has been appointed to a season-long coaching internship, the team said.

Coach Sean McDermott told a team spokesman that Schecter will assist the Bills' quality control coaches: Shea Tierney on offense, John Egorugwu on defense.

Schecter, 28, spent this summer with the tight ends during training camp at St. John Fisher College. She was selected through the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship, and was one of six female coaching interns in the league.

"We were very fortunate that we were able to get her last year as an intern for training camp," Bills co-owner and president Kim Pegula told The Buffalo News. "And I tell you what, she did such a great job. The way she handled herself and the respect that she garnered from the players didn't go unnoticed by Coach.

"I give Coach a lot of credit because he also said, instead of 'checking the box' and saying, 'OK, we did that for her,' his recommendation was, 'Phoebe, you need to come back because you can't learn everything about football in one training camp. There is so much more that you can learn.' ... He saw that (it was) in the best interests of Phoebe and her development to invite her back again.

"She worked defense, now she's working offense (as well this year) to allow her to really develop and grow. And, obviously, her performance on the field and in the rooms, he obviously was impressed with her to invite her back to be a full-time, now, intern."

She becomes one of the few women with season-long appointments in the NFL coaching ranks.

Earlier this month, the Raiders hired Kelsey Martinez as the league's only female strength and conditioning coach. Katie Sowers, a former Walsh Diversity intern, is in her second season with the San Francisco 49ers, as an offensive assistant.

Kathryn Smith, a special teams quality control coach with the Bills in 2016, was the league's first full-time female assistant coach. Kathleen Wood spent time as an intern in the Bills' scouting department last summer and also interned with the Philadelphia Eagles.

"(Schecter's appointment) is just a great example of the league, the club, coaching, people working together to get the right person in the right situation and given the right opportunity," she said.

After leaving camp last year, Schecter went on to coach at Bryant University in Rhode Island, then to California to work with Stanford during spring practice. In between, there were trips to Europe, where she plays linebacker for the men’s squad of the Staffordshire Surge and Birmingham Lions, in addition to being the captain of the Great Britain women’s team.

The coaching opportunities in the United States have been fueled by the Women's Careers in Football Forum, which has been held during the Pro Bowl for the past two years. Schecter was among 50 women invited both years.

The goal of the program is to make it normal practice to hire female coaches, and not something that is noteworthy or out of the ordinary.

"There's always studies done out there that show that when younger people, where there's a role model, when there's someone in a position that kids can see doing things, it just resonates so much better for them," Pegula said. "And, so hopefully young girls see Phoebe in that role and say, 'You know what, there's an opportunity for me some day out there for me if I do the work.' So I think it's very important and I'm obviously a proponent of including people of all kinds in any organization. I think it's just so healthy for us."

Bills' Phoebe Schecter among female coaches getting more opportunities

Contributing: Vic Carucci, Danielle Allentuck

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