After just one year of interning as a student equipment manager for Texas State football, Jada Gipson runs a touchdown into an assistant inside linebackers student coach position, and a chance to pursue her passion: a career in the football industry.
Despite her interest in coaching, the prospects of a job in the field felt slim to none, at first, due to the lack of women coaching in both collegiate and professional football. Before Jada Gipson, a general studies major, stepped on, even Texas State's coaching staff was made up of solely male coaches.
“[Coaching] was something that I always wanted to do but didn’t know was possible at the time,” Jada Gipson says. “I didn’t really see a lot of women in football till my sophomore year of college when there were four women coaches in the NFL.”
Sports have always been a large part of Jada Gipson’s life. Her father played basketball at Baylor University and her brother, Jaylen Gipson, played quarterback for Texas State.
Jaylen Gipson has acknowledged his sister's struggles surrounding being a woman in the football industry but says she's unfazed by the challenge.
“Jada has dealt with a lot of [adversity] since you don’t see many female coaches, and she hasn’t let that affect her at all,” Jaylen Gipson says. “She is very determined and dedicated to being a college coach. She is busting her butt, no doubt, and I see all the hard work she puts in."
Before leaving her internship in the equipment department, Jada Gipson expressed her interest in coaching to Director of Equipment Operations Andrew Johnson, her boss at the time. This proactiveness led her to a new position — coaching under former Inside Linebackers Coach Archie McDaniel before the 2020 season.
“Andrew Johnson...asked our former linebackers coach Archie McDaniel [about the move to coaching],” Jada Gipson says. “[Johnson] just texted me one day and said to 'Go talk to McDaniel and ask if you can coach with him'. Coach McDaniel already knew that I had wanted to coach, and it was just a perfect fit.”
While Jada Gipson initially wanted to coach offense, she says being placed on the defensive side of the field offered her a new perspective to the game.
“Coming in, I wasn’t a defensive person,” Jada Gipson says. “I was always on the offensive side of the ball since that is what my brother plays. Now I have a better understanding of how to read a defense and why we do the stuff we do.”
Currently, Jada Gipson works with the inside linebackers group under Inside Linebackers Coach Brian Gamble. During the season, her days consist of player management, running drills at practice with the scout team, reviewing film and sitting in all defensive staff and linebacker position meetings. Despite being the only woman among the coaching staff, she feels welcomed on the team.
“All of [the coaches] have been really accepting of me coming in,” Jada Gipson says. "They haven’t treated me any different; I am just another coach to them. They pour their knowledge into me daily, especially our graduate assistants. They have helped me since day one with anything I’ve needed.”
Head Coach Jake Spavital has taken note of Jada Gipson's work ethic and views her as a valuable part of the Bobcats' coaching staff. During a press conference in March, Spavital touched on her relationship with the team.
“I think she has an extremely bright future ahead of her,” Spavital says. “I tell Jaylen that, 'You're not my favorite Gipson anymore, it’s Jada.' It’s an awesome opportunity, and I’m glad she’s here. She has been around this program for a while, and all the kids are very familiar with her just from being Jaylen’s sister and being around. It’s fun; she goes out there and loves linebacker drills, and she’s earning her stripes.”
Jada Gipson hopes to continue coaching at Texas State by taking on a graduate assistant coaching position once she finishes her undergraduate degree in spring 2022. Beyond graduate school, she has set her sights even higher, intending to be a collegiate football coach and, possibly, make it to the professional levels.
She is already making progress in the latter. Back in February, she was one of 40 women selected to attend the annual NFL Women’s Careers in Football Forum, an event designed for women in football to network with professional players, coaches and executives.
This summer, she will also participate in a virtual fellowship with the NFL's Cleveland Browns. The fellowship will involve working with defensive backs for organized team activities (OTAs) in the team's offseason. Inspired by the likes of Jennifer King, Lori Locust and Sophia Lewin, Jada Gipson wants to make an impact as a woman in football.
Within his own professional dreams set in the industry, Jaylen Gipson hopes to take that step with his sister, confident that Jada Gipson can make it.
“The sky is the limit for Jada,” Jaylen Gipson says. “She is a very determined person. Once she puts her mind to something, she goes and attacks it, and it’s hard to tell Jada she can’t do anything. I know her hopes and dreams are to coach professionally, and I wouldn’t doubt her.”