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Callie Brownson thankful for 'incredible opportunity' to coach USA Football

Brownson, the Browns' Chief of Staff, will lead the U.S. National Team at the 2022 Women's Tackle World Championship and plans to soak in every moment to become an even better coach


Callie Brownson set the goal as soon as showed off her gold medal to her dad.

Brownson, a defensive back at the time and a few hours removed from one of the best football experiences of her life at the 2017 Women's World Championship in Canada, wanted to coach USA Football. The international experience she had in Canada was unlike anything else in her time around the sport in the U.S., and as she replayed the medal-winning memories from the games in her head, she realized her dream of wanting to coach her country's football team.

"I got back in the car with him when we driving back from the airport, and I said, 'I don't know how, but I'm nearing the end of my (playing) career, and the next time I'm with Team USA, I want to coach," Brownson told reporters Thursday on a Zoom call. "I didn't know what capacity it was going to be, but I knew I wanted to make it a reality at some point in the future."

That reality has arrived.

Brownson, the Browns' Chief of Staff, was named Thursday by USA Football as the head coach of the 2022 U.S. Women's Tackle National Football Team, which will compete at the 2022 International Federation of American Football (IFAF) Women's Tackle World Championship in Vantaa, Finland, from July 27-Aug. 8. She earned the opportunity after spending the last four years as a coach with Dartmouth (2018), the Buffalo Bills (2019) and the Browns (2020-present) and expects the coaching gig to help extend her coaching career, one highlighted by several trailblazing moments for women in football, to even greater heights.

"Representing your country on the international stage is something that's very special and one of the greatest memories and moments I have," Brownson said. "To be able to take on this opportunity now that I'm in the coaching sphere is hard to put into words sometimes. I'm very excited for this and couldn't be doing it for a better group of people."

At different periods of the 2022 offseason, Brownson will forgo her duties as one of head coach Kevin Stefanski's top assistants as she prepares to bring another gold medal to the U.S. The Browns, who have prioritized coaching development under Stefanski, are eager to see how she grows.

"USA Football has made a tremendous selection in Callie," Stefanski said in a press release from USA Football. "In addition to the honor that comes with representing the United States, this is an exciting professional development opportunity, which I encourage for everyone on our coaching staff. Callie and USA Football have our full support."

Brownson was a gold medal-winning defensive back with USA Football in 2013 and was a five-time captain of the (Washington) D.C. Divas of the Women's Football Alliance from 2010-17. From 2018-2021, she also served as one of 22 members of USA Football's Football Development Model Council, composed of medical, football and long-term athlete development experts to assist in building an innovative long-term athlete development model for the sport.

The resume couldn't look much better for Brownson, and that's why USA Football has plenty of confidence in her to lead the team as it prepares for the fourth IFAF Women's Tackle World Championship.

"We've known Callie for a long time," USA Football CEO Scott Hallenbeck said. "We've had a great history with her, a really terrific person and football leader. We're extremely proud and honored to have her accept this role to lead our team."

Brownson's preparation to become a head coach actually began in 2013, when she first appeared with USA Football as a player for the IFAF Women's Tackle World Championship, which was also in Finland that year. She began creating notebooks full of her own observations and notes about the playbook and tapped into the skills needed to separate herself from a player to a coach, and those notebooks came in handy again when she re-joined the team for another IFAF gold medal in 2017. She still has those notebooks to this day.

Her note-taking, of course, has continued with the Browns, where she's had "one of the best seats in the house" to watch Stefanski lead a playoff-contending team for two seasons and win NFL Coach of the Year in 2020. His approach to handling adversity is one of the many traits Brownson hopes to bring with her from Cleveland to Finland next summer.

"Coach Stefanski is an incredible leader in so many ways," Brownson said. "I think that's one big thing I've learned is how to stay poised and make good decisions in the heat of everything. I've been really fortunate to be in the seat I've been in to see 2020, when we built things fresh, to 2021 and building off what we had last year."

Brownson has been a trailblazer for women in football throughout her entire career. She became the first female interim position coach last season when she filled in for Browns tight ends coach Drew Petzing on Nov. 29 against the Jaguars, and she also was a part of the first all-woman trio featuring female coaches on both sidelines and a female official on the field Sept. 27, 2020, last season when the Browns played the Washington Football Team.

Brownson has inspired many women to pursue a career in the male-dominated sport, and she hopes her announcement as USA Football's head coach helps women take another step toward a crucial milestone: No woman has ever been named an NFL head coach, but Brownson believes it will eventually happen.

It could be Brownson herself, or any of the other women around the sport who continue to knock down barriers and create a more equal playing field across all genders in football. Brownson, though, is in no hurry for that to happen, and for good reason.

"It's got to take as much time as it needs to take so that the right decision is made," Brownson said. "That's really what it is. I think it will happen. It definitely will. I don't think you can put a time stamp on it because the proper progression needs to happen so that whoever it is is prepared and ready for that opportunity."

There's no doubt Brownson has helped women come closer to achieving that goal. Her next gig as a head coach with USA Football will lay another brick in that process, but for now, Brownson is focused on continuing to deliver on her job with the Browns and making the most of a dream opportunity to represent her country in a sport in which she's already made a difference.

"I just try to take every opportunity that's given to me and do my best with it," she said. "This is no different to me. It's an incredible opportunity in my development for whatever my end goal may be. It's going to get 110 percent of me, and I'm going to make sure I'm learning throughout the entire process."