Former Pace University woman's basketball player looks to make history at Super Bowl
For just the second time in history, the Super Bowl sidelines will feature a female coach and this year, there are ties to Westchester County.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers assistant strength and conditioning coach Maral Javadifar has always been inspired by those who have broken barriers, namely her mother, who fled war-torn Iran in the 1980s. “It's quite the journey for her to not be able to attend sporting events or have as many opportunities. For her and my father, they really did whatever they could to afford me the opportunities to embrace each of those journeys," says Javadifar.
Before her life in football, Javadifar was a basketball player at Pace University. Despite tearing her ACL in her senior year of high school, she played at Pace - where she discovered her true passion: physical therapy. “When Maral first came in, she was an accounting major. It didn't take her long to change to biology. She really enjoyed physical therapy, she really respected physical therapists,” says Pace women's basketball head coach Carrie Seymour.
After completing her biology degree, she got her doctorate in physical therapy. “Within that whole process, I was shadowing strength coaches and training to separate myself from others,” says Javadifar.
Eventually it all paid off, and now she's coaching for a Super Bowl contender. And while she has been fortunate enough to be a pioneer for women in her industry, her hope is that this soon becomes the norm. "I do look forward to the day that it's no longer newsworthy. And I hope we get to a point where all people are afforded equal opportunities to work in professional sports."
If the Bucs win on Sunday, Javadifar would be the first woman coach to help a team hoist the Lombardi trophy, adding to her already impressive resume.