By Kory Guidry
As each year goes by, more women are obtaining prominent roles in the football world–a world that has been a male dominated field since it has existed. The amount of women with jobs in coaching, recruiting, and operations in both college and the NFL continue to increase.
Texas State’s director of football operations Haleigh Blocker is a perfect example of the growing trend in her field. Blocker was hired right after graduating from Texas State as an intern for the football program.
Blocker breaks the barrier of the many football operation directors of the past that have consisted of older men with experience in coaching, recruiting, or have a strong existing relationship with the current head coach and staff.
For someone to be fresh out of college and already have a prominent position is very rare and impressive, regardless of someone’s gender. Blocker stands as an inspiration for young women who would dream of working in sports, but maybe lack the confidence to pursue it.
Blocker is from Falls City, Texas, a small town just 45 minutes south of San Antonio. Like many across Texas, sports and football was the talk of the town. She grew up around football and developed a passion for it. Once she attended Texas State, Blocker set her goal: work in football however she could.
She started off as an intern working the front desk, answering phone calls and doing whatever she could to help. After assisting in the recruiting process, Blocker began doing more on the operation-side of things and found that to be what she wanted to pursue. She has a great relationship with the current head football coach at Texas State Jake Spavital, who was the one that believed in her and gave her this opportunity.
“I will forever be grateful for him because he did take a chance on me being so young. I always tell people when I first started that he believed in me more than I believed in myself.”Haleigh Blocker
Tory Teykl, director of football operation at the University of Texas, truly inspired Blocker to pursue a career in operations. Listening to Teykl talk gave her the confidence that she could do it as well.
“I have always admired her,” Blocker said. “Listening to her talk about what she did and how good she was at it really inspired me to know that I could do it too, so she was a really big inspiration for me.”
Jumping into a profession where the majority of people in it are men has never discouraged or intimidated Blocker.
“I never thought twice about it being male dominated,” Blocker said. “I mean I obviously knew by looking around and sending out emails that it was, but that has never affected me.”
Blocker also had the chance to attend the 2019 Women’s Forum at the NFL Combine. The Women’s Forum is a place where women who have jobs in college football and the NFL, along with some head coaches, speak to young women about what future they can have working in the sport.
The forum allows these aspiring workers to make connections and build relationships with people who are established in the business.
“Going to the Women’s Forum and seeing a lot more women recruiting and coaching now really inspired me and I never looked back,” Blocker said. “Now that I am doing it, I hope that I can inspire many more women who want to do operations or recruiting to go for that because it is definitely possible.”
Blocker was one of 40 people who were invited to attend the forum where she and the other women were able to make connections with current employees in the NFL and college football. Blocker also got to meet current 49ers assistant coach Katie Sowers and former Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera.
Being the director of football operations entails many different things on a day to day basis. Blocker handles all the travel for the team by booking all the hotels, charter flights, busses and police escorts. She also handles meals for the team along with coach Spavital’s busy schedule.
While working basically seven days a week and clocking many hours, Blocker very much enjoys her job as she gets to witness these student athletes come into the program as wide-eyed freshmen and leave as men.
Blocker gets to the office at about five in the morning and leaves at about six or seven in the evening so the hours can be grueling. The 23-year old loves what she does, so the time always seems to go by fast.
Having that work ethic at a young age and being willing to put in those rigorous hours to pursue what she loves is very admirable. A lot of people her age still often go out at night and put more value in having fun and their own social lifethan their careers. For Blocker, she does not really think about it like that.
“I don’t really think about that too much, my family and friends are so supportive of what I do,” Blocker said. “So yeah I am not around my friends or family as much as they would like, but they know that I love what I am doing.”
On the rare occasion she is off, she likes to play volleyball, go shopping, watch her little sister play sports and go visit family as much as possible.
Blocker’s message for young women wishing to get involved in football or sports in general is to absolutely go for it.
“If you have the work ethic and love what you do then do it,” Blocker said. “You would be surprised at how many men want to help you. I think it is really cool to see more and more women working in male dominated sports.”
Blocker continues to pave the way by inspiring young women to enter and strive in the business and looks to make an even greater impact heading into Texas State’s 2020-21 football season.
Featured image courtesy of Texas State Athletics.