Janice Pettyjohn: Meet The Woman Who Made History As Howard University’s First Female Full-Time Football Staff Member

by Gee NY

Janice Pettyjohn, a native of Lumberton, has etched her name in history by securing the position of the first woman to be hired for a full-time football role at Howard University.

This achievement has been described as a groundbreaking stride toward gender inclusivity in collegiate football.

“I’m 22, about to be 23, doing what some 30 years old’s are just getting started doing,” Pettyjohn said in an interview with the Burlington County Times in 2022 when she took the top job as Assistant Director of Football Operations.

Pettyjohn’s remarkable achievement comes as a result of her journey from managing a middle school basketball team to assuming the esteemed position of Assistant Director of Football Operations.

Pettyjohn’s early years were not centered around sports due to health issues that hindered her from participating in youth sports.

Undeterred by these challenges, she immersed herself in extracurricular activities, managing basketball teams, and ultimately discovering her passion for sports.

Recognizing her organizational prowess during her time at Rancocas Valley Regional High School, football coach Dan Haussman took note of Pettyjohn’s skills beyond sports.

Her determination was evident not only on the field but also in challenging honors courses, showcasing her grit as a student.

Upon entering Howard University’s sports medicine residency program, Pettyjohn swiftly became an integral part of the Bison football team, demonstrating her capabilities as a graphic designer and equipment manager.

Head coach Larry Scott, impressed by her talents, gradually guided her toward the groundbreaking role she would eventually assume.

Initially planning to pursue medical school after graduating in 2021, Pettyjohn discovered her passion for football.

The opportunity for a full-time position at Howard arose, and she seamlessly transitioned into the roles of Assistant Director of Football Operations and Director of On-Campus Recruiting, positions crafted specifically for her unique skill set.

As a 22-year-old woman entering a traditionally male-dominated field, Pettyjohn acknowledges the challenges of earning trust and building relationships.

Her presence in a role typically held by men is a testament to her talent and resilience, showcasing her ability to handle high-level career responsibilities at a young age.

Throughout her journey, Pettyjohn has enjoyed unwavering support from coaches, players, and Howard University faculty, underscoring her success in an industry where age and gender biases persist.

Principal Joseph Martin of Rancocas Valley Regional High School commended her accomplishments, emphasizing the significance of a young woman excelling in a male-dominated sector.

Leveraging her background in sociology, Pettyjohn aspires to establish a rehabilitation facility in low-income areas, aiming to level the playing field for athletes from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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