In a first, woman gets full-time football position at Howard University – and she’s only 22

Abu Mubarik April 23, 2022
Image: YouTube

Janice Pettyjohn has become the first woman to be hired for a full-time football position at Howard University, one of the more than 90 historically Black colleges and universities. Her appointment has been viewed not only as historic but one that will open more opportunities for Blacks and other minorities.

Pettyjohn’s hire is no fluke, it must be stressed. The 22-year-old has been managing teams since middle school. She was the Rancocas Valley Regional High School (RVRHS) football team manager. At Howard University where she went to study for a degree in sports medicine, she was offered an undergraduate position doubling as a graphic designer and equipment manager with the Bison football team.

Pettyjohn was subsequently asked to work with operations and the sports information department. Soon, Pettyjohn, who was just a student, was being treated more like an adult as the new head coach for Bisons Larry Scott gave her new recruitment responsibilities.

“I was always the person kind of with that mentality like that if it has to get done, I’m going to be the one that gets it done… Despite the fact that I was [a student] at the time…He gave me the same responsibilities that he was doing,” Pettyjohn said to Burlington County Times.

After graduating from Howard’s Sports Medicine Residency program with a minor in sociology, Pettyjohn was offered a full-time position with the Bison, making history as the first woman to be hired for a full-time football position at the HBCU. 

In her new position, Pettyjohn serves as assistant director of football operations as well as director of on-campus recruiting. According to Burlington County Times, the position was specifically created for her. Her new position also means that she is involved in the recruiting process such as campus tours and oversees the maintenance of the football facilities while helping with event coordination.

Her career background means that Pettyjohn comes to her new position with a massive experience in team management. Interestingly, football was not one of her areas of interest growing up. Her interest was in arts and painting. However, when she got to middle school, she told herself she had to find a way to get involved in sports as an extracurricular activity.

“I started managing the basketball team in seventh grade then I did it in eighth grade and it ended up just becoming something that I loved without realizing that I love because it just became second nature.”

Pettyjohn currently understands the challenge ahead of her. She understands she is in a field that is dominated by men.

“I’m super grateful for this position,” she said. “Being 22 years old and getting a full-time position at Howard fresh out of college — it’s rare.”

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