With the Mission Prep football team looking for a junior varsity coach, professional player and world champion Knengi Martin seemed the perfect fit for the job.
Yet the hiring turned a few heads for one simple reason: Martin is a woman.
Martin became the first known woman high school football head coach in California and one of a few in the entire nation.
Natalie Randolph of Coolidge High in Washington, D.C., is the only known varsity female head coach in the country.
Like Randolph, Martin said she isn’t trying to break barriers — she’s just continuing to enjoy her passion.
“I’m not here to say, ‘I’m a female coach, so look at me,’ ” Martin said. “You love the sport, I love the sport, so let’s go make it better.”
Martin was hired by then-Mission Prep varsity coach Brady Lock, who expressed interest in Martin after hearing she had coached many of the younger players in youth football.
“She came over, and we talked, and I liked her immediately,” Lock said at the time. “She coached some of our kids (in youth leagues). They knew her, their parents knew her. It was a good fit.”
Prior to accepting the job at Mission Prep, Martin played on the United States national team in the inaugural women’s world championships.
As one of 45 players selected from the Independent Women’s Football League, Martin earned all-world first-team defensive honors as the Americans crushed the competition, including a 66-0 win over Canada in the gold medal game.