Phoebe Schecter made an unwittingly life changing decision in her early 20s when, having moved to England to work with horses, she saw an ad to play American football on social media.
Fast-forward to today, and Schecter has become an accomplished player and coach. Not only does she represent Great Britain’s national team, but in holding dual-citizenship since moving from the U.S., she was also the NFL’s first British female coach, working for the Buffalo Bills. Phoebe Schecter believes that much of her success is due to never fearing failure, and she works hard to inspire women to adopt the same attitude.
M&F sat down with the trailblazer to learn more about how sport can build better humans.
I was born in Connecticut,” says Schecter. “From a really young age, gymnastics was my forte. That, and horseback riding. That pretty much formed most of my childhood.”
As she grew older, Schecter’s love of competing amplified and soon she was diving into other sports such as cross country running, softball, and lacrosse. For this fledgling athlete, sport was a great confidence booster, so much so that her life took a welcome but unexpected turn, simply through opening herself up to new challenges. This is a theme that Schecter is eager to share with females of all ages: that getting active with sports can impact your life in a truly positive way.
For Phoebe Schecter, that big lifechanging moment came when she decided to take the plunge and play football, but you don’t have to play high impact sports to evolve. Now working for NFL UK, Schecter is on a mission to bring more girls into the sport of flag football.
Phoebe Schecter Is a Champion of Flag Football
The New York Jets and Chicago Bears recently launched the inaugural Jets and Bears NFL Girls Flag league in the UK and Schecter serves as an ambassador for important initiatives such as this. “Girls have a really great opportunity because flag football is so much about leadership skills,” she says. “Flag football is a five-a-side, non-contact, invasion game. It’s our version of American football that, I think, has fewer barriers to participation. It’s a much faster paced game. It’s easier to understand. You’ve got four attempts to get halfway, and then another four attempts to score. All you are gonna do is run, or pass the ball, and I think
it’s a really fun way for kids to express themselves on any sort of sporting pitch. There’s a position for everybody, no matter your size, shape of skillset.”
Flag football is just one of the pathways that the NFL is setting up for girls in sport with women being able to play football for Team GB. Schecter, herself, is a huge part of that team as a defensive back, having captained too, and is looking forward to the upcoming European Championships in Ireland.
The NFL Academy is a major initiative by the NFL, which aims to use American football to create life-changing opportunities for young people in the UK. Find out more here!
“In the United States, as well, there’s a lot of opportunity to play,” she says. “Girls can go to University and get a scholarship to play flag football. You can get a scholarship to go play and get an education.” And, with excitement around flag football being considered for the 2028 Olympic Games, there’s never been a better time to get involved.
Schecter Is Sending the Elevator Down for Future Female Success Stories
For Schecter, one of sports biggest merits is the ability for it to become an inclusive endeavor. While serving the Bills, Schecter became a tackle specialist, breaking down the processes and steps for how each tackle succeeded or failed.
“What was your speed? Your angle? That’s what really excites me,” she says. Her experience at the Buffalo Bills was one of encouragement and her being female was never an obstacle in the testosterone heavy world of football. Schecter recognizes though, that the more women can get into significant roles in sports, the less novel the concept will be, and normalizing the idea of females coaching male dominated sports is essential.
When it comes to play, Schecter loves to hit the gym and build on her explosive power. She is a fan of pullups, squats, and kettlebells. But, while Schecter is very much at the top her game, also serving as an NFL broadcast analyst for SKY Sports, she’s always looking to send the elevator back down to create future success stories.
“Ideally, in a perfect world, I would love for someone younger, faster, stronger, and better than me to put me out of a job, so to speak,” says Schecter. “That’s the ultimate goal. I want more young people to try and play this sport. Looking at people from handball, netball, and track. Let’s get athletes from all different versions. “Sport, absolutely, has given me confidence and I feel so empowered just through playing.”
Schecter is competitive, but feels that sport is so much more than a matter of who wins or loses. She says that people make great friends and enter new social circles when they join teams. This pioneer also feels that sports help to create well rounded human beings. “When you see that person grow and develop over time, there’s no better feeling,” she beams.