Emily Zaler began her career with the Denver Broncos as a fellow. With the NFL team she served as one of three Bill Walsh NFL Diversity Coaching Fellows for the summer. After the team announced cuts to the roster, the Broncos said they hired Zaler as a full-time, making her the franchise’s first woman to serve in a full-time coaching position.
Before beginning her career with Denver, she worked as a seasonal assistant with the New York Knicks until COVID-19 shut down the NBA season. Zaler is a certified strength and conditioning coach who worked in that department with the Broncos. Now, she will continue with that role under contract. Earlier in August, she said in an interview that when the NBA season was suspended she took action on an opportunity to work in a second professional sport.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to coach within the NFL, and I heard about the Bill Walsh Coaching Fellowship, sent in my application and I reached out to (Head Strength and Conditioning) Coach (Loren) Landow, Coach (Vic) Fangio and Mr. (John) Elway, as being part of the Denver Broncos organization has always been a dream of mine,” Zaler said with DenverBroncos.com.
Her summer fellowship included working with Landow as she assisted him in helping with workouts, warm up sessions and workouts in the gym. Fangio said she would join them for the season.
“We’re going to keep her around throughout the season,” Fangio said. “She did a really nice job here. She’s knowledgeable, very passionate about the strength and conditioning aspect. We’re happy to have her, and we’re going to keep her on for the entire season.”
Zaler joins a growing list of women in coaching positions with NFL franchises. Though it’s a small number, the NFL is making continuous efforts to hire more women in coaching roles. The group of women in coaching positions in football are the 49ers offensive assistant Katie Sowers, the Browns’ chief of staff Callie Brownson and Buccaneers’ assistant strength and conditioning Maral Javadifar and assistant defensive line Lori Locust.
“Over the last decade, I’ve been told more times than I can count that I would never have the opportunity to work in the NFL or the NBA because I’m a woman, and there are a handful of women who have led the way for me that have had the opportunity and shown me that it is possible,” Zaler said. “I hope to do the same for the next generation of female strength and conditioning coaches who want to work in an elite male sport.”