BIDDEFORD — Andrea Gosper has always known she wanted to do something for her career that keeps her involved with sports.

She is a senior at the University of New England, majoring in nutrition. Her goal, she said, was to work with elite athletes, either at the professional or collegiate level.

And then the National Football League called.

Gosper, a 21-year-old who plays softball for the Nor’easters, was invited to attend the NFL Women’s Careers in Football Forum this week in Indianapolis. Only 40 women were invited to attend the two-day forum.

“I didn’t even know this was a thing,” said Gosper. “I never thought, at age 21, I would go to an NFL conference.”

Gosper caught the attention of the NFL for her work with the nascent UNE football team last fall, when she served as an intern on the coaching staff. Her duties included running the offensive scout team in practice, breaking down practice and game video, and helping with recruiting.


“She’s earned this opportunity,” said UNE Coach Mike Lichten. “I think it’s great for the sport, I think it’s great for the NFL. Andrea’s going to make whatever entity she’s involved with better.”

This is the third year the NFL has sponsored the forum, hoping to bring some diversity – and new perspectives – to a male-dominated arena. In the last two years, nine NFL clubs have hired women through the program – either in the coaching, scouting or football operations departments. In addition, Callie Brownson, who attended the first two forums, was hired by Dartmouth College as the nation’s first full-time female assistant football coach.

Sam Rapoport, the NFL’s senior director of football diversity and inclusion, said the forum seeks to educate participants on career paths in football.

“Sometimes people, and not just women, don’t know all the paths that are available to them in football,” she said. “There’s football administration, football operations, coaching, scouting. There are several paths you can take to football.”

The forum will provide Gosper and the others with the opportunity to talk with NFL general managers and coaches. “They’re going to have the captive attention of some of the most influential people in football,” Rapoport said.

After bringing in 220 female tackle football players for the first forum and 50 last year for the second, the NFL limited this year’s forum to 40, focusing on women who were already engaged with football at the college level. “We wanted more time for each participant to interact with the general managers and coaches who will be there,” said Rapoport.


About 80 women were contacted, and asked to supply a resume and video application. Gosper, said Rapoport, was “the ideal candidate. We read a couple of articles about her, we watched her video. Her passion is clear and her direction is clear.”

Sports has always had a big place in Gosper’s life. She played soccer and softball growing up in Rhode Island and was a second-team Commonwealth Coast Conference softball selection last spring. Football has also been a big part of her life, spending Sundays watching the New England Patriots with her father, Kevin.

She first studied athletic training at UNE, then switched to nutrition when it became available as a major.

“Nutrition is a different side of sports,” she said. “I’m a gym rat, so I love being inside the gym, but people forget that nutrition correlates with (the work) you put in the gym. And that’s a new thing, putting the gym and nutrition together. I wanted to be part of that.”

When UNE added coaching as a minor study three years ago, Gosper immediately signed up. One of her professors, Katie Hawke, encouraged her to apply as an intern on the football staff.

“I’ve known Andrea for a few years now and I’ve been advising her in the coaching minor,” said Hawke. “I knew she played softball, but getting an internship in high school softball is difficult because of the timing of the season. I also knew she had a passion for football.”


Hawke spoke to Lichten, who was more then willing to have a woman join his staff.

“When I told her, her eyes lit up,” said Hawke. “I told her she would have to interview for it to see if it was a good fit. Obviously, it was a good fit.”

Lichten said Gosper did everything she was asked, and then some. “We saw that from the beginning,” he said. “She has a passion for athletics, and I also think she has a very interested focus on football.”

He wasn’t concerned about having a woman on staff. “Never,” he said. “The kids learned from her and she learned from them.”

Gosper said she doesn’t believe in gender barriers, but realizes attending the forum could help create a pathway for more women to follow.

She already has been accepted into grad school at Logan University, a small school in Missouri focused on health sciences.


But if an opportunity to work in the NFL develops?

“I’ll adjust my plans,” she said. “You can’t say no to anything like this. If you get a chance in the NFL, you have to take it, because you never know when another chance like this will come.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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