Kenwood’s Female Football Coach A Model of Breaking Gender Barriers


Kenwood Coach Jenn Leaf spent time playing semi pro on the women’s full tackle football for a team called Baltimore Burn.

Kenwood welcomed their female football coach, Coach Jenn Leaf, three years ago. Though this is her third season coaching the Kenwood Bluebirds, she has been coaching football for almost fourteen years.

She has had interest in football since her high school days as a young teenager. When she was a young teenager back in the 90’s she wanted to try out for the team. But because she was a girl and girls weren’t expected to play football, due to it always being a male dominated sport, she was afraid to tryout because “I didn’t want to be bullied or made fun of for being a girl trying out for football,” Leaf shares.

Now today, we’re seeing women taking more of a role in football. Though there are a small handful of women taking on roles in football, two recent ones that stand out are the San Francisco 49ers’ first female coach, Katie Sowers, and the NFL now has two female referees.

Leaf’s passion has always been there, especially when she first started coaching. She got her first coaching at rec level with Stembridge, which is right down the street from Kenwood. She had also got the opportunity to play semi pro women’s full tackle football for a team called Baltimore Burn. She used what she learned to also teach her son during a rec program, she did this to “create cool memories for us as mom and son. I mean how many moms coach their sons in football.”

Though she missed playing the sport very much she fell in love with coaching, enjoying everything she had learned so far from coaching at a recreational center. But once Leaf had learned of the opportunity for a coach here at Kenwood, she applied and she is now a coach here at Kenwood High School. Kenwood varsity football coach, Coach K shares, “Coach Leaf is highly respected by other coaches and players.”

The players respect how she coaches them. Athlete Isaiah W. says she has kept them in line and even when they took a loss, they looked up to her for encouragement. “She’ll bring us up even when we doubt ourselves. She’s the reason we have gotten over our losses,” he adds.

It is very encouraging to see common gender stereotypes being challenged and not only add a positive impact to the inclusion of females in male dominated sports but an act of courage for girls and even older women to take part in sports deemed unsuitable and masculine to women. Leaf adds, “We as women in the sport are making great strides these days.” Though she has not seen any other women coaches with the other teams they play against, she has seen several young ladies playing for teams around the county. She shares, “I regularly talk to a young lady playing on my son’s team at Sparrows Point.”

Leaf thoroughly enjoys her role here as one of Kenwood’s football coaches. “I love watching the players grow and learn in life skills and the sport. I love watching the light bulbs go on when something clicks for them and I have a passion for the sport itself.”

While she’s coaching young men on the football field, she’s also modeling courage for Kenwood females and others to break gender barriers to chase their own goals and dreams.