Tanya Walter: CFL History Maker

Tanya Walter: CFL History Maker
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Tanya Walter is a CFL history maker. That history was made this week, when it was announced by the BC Lions that she had been added as a full-time defensive assistant.

Walter became the first full-time female coach in Canadian Football League history on Tuesday when she signed with the B.C. Lions. Joining the team as a defensive assistant.

Let’s hope we see more of this. Diversity is Strength is a phrase/campaign that the CFL has long hung its hat on. What would be great to see would be diversity across the board. From players, to coaches, backroom staff, league offices and fan bases across the league.

All that you can ask is that, whatever someone’s background, they are judge entirely on merit. And that is what decides whether they get the job or not.

Tanya Walter being announced as a coaching staff addition by Lions HC Rick Campbell. Image from cfl.ca

Who is Tanya Walter?

Tanya Walter has been in an around American football for some time now. She was a player with the Western Women’s Canadian Football League’s (WWCFL) Edmonton Storm in 2013.

She also played for Team Alberta and Team Canada. Going so far as to win a silver medal at the IFAF Women’s World Championship in 2017. A six team tournament that saw Team GB make their first apperance.

Her coaching career began with coaching at Edmonton’s St. Francis Xavier High School from 2017-21. She also had a guest appearance with the CJFL Edmonton Huskies. And served as an assistant for the West Edmonton Raiders girls tackle football team.

Walter attended the NFL’s Women’s Careers in Football Forum in Orlando in 2018.

Chris O’Leary noted on cfl.ca that the NFL says that “since 2017, participants in the NFL Women’s Forum have secured 201 positions in football, with 107 of them in the NFL. Another Canadian at the forum in 2018, Laurence Pontbriand, is now the CFL’s manager of football and officiating development”.

Driven to succeed

We have seen female coaches appointed in the NFL be part of great success. So we know this can be done and done well. But North of the border this is a first.

Being the first is always difficult. But it is clear from her interviews that Tanya Walter is driven to succeed. All trailblazers have to have that determination.

We wrote , for example, of Catherine Raiche that “when successful women like Raiche are embraced on ability alone and their gender is not a story-line then our culture will have moved on for the better”.

That applies just as much here. Let’s judge Tanya Walter on how she performs in her role. And on that alone. But let’s also hope that this opens the door to more women in football, because diversity, as the league likes to say, really is strentgh.

Banner Image: Tanya Walter announced as a full-time defensive assistant with the BC Lions. Image from Americanfootballinternational.

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