The Ravens will welcome three women to the Under Armour Performance Center this summer to learn from Baltimore’s coaches and analytics team.
Lori Locust (Lehigh Valley Steelhawks) will learn from the defensive coaches, Erica Vinson-Ondecko (Waynesboro High School) will shadow Specialists Coach Randy Brown, and Elena Grigelevich (Bryant University) will study with the analytics team.
In a profession dominated by men, the three women are pushing through the norms. It's the first time in franchise history that the Ravens have had female coaches.
"These are three coaches that are pioneering at their level – high school level, college level and professional level – that are going to come out and work with us and intern for us," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "I’m fired up about it. I had a chance to get to know them just a little bit, and they’re sharp and very knowledgeable."
Harbaugh said he believes there will be more women coaching in football as time goes on.
"It’s a talent pool. You have a lot of very smart people in half the population," Harbaugh said. "I’m probably a little biased, because I see my daughter every single day, and I want her to do whatever she wants to do in life."
Vinson-Ondecko will visit on the first day of mandatory minicamp upon invitation from Brown, who Vinson-Ondecko got in touch with via his government email (Brown is the Mayor of Evesham Township in New Jersey).
Vinson-Ondecko is entering her sixth season coaching placekickers and punters at Waynesboro Area Senior High School, which is just over the Maryland border in Pennsylvania. After playing four years of high school football and three years at Juniata College, Vinson-Ondecko moved into coaching.
She’s read many books on kicking, gone to coaching conferences and watched countless instructional videos, but she’s looking to take the next step and learn from the pros. A New York Jets fan at heart, Vinson-Ondecko tunes in for Ravens games to watch their special teams mastery.
“They’re the absolute best in the business,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to absorbing everything I possibly can, from how Coach Brown talks to his guys and the drills he uses.”
Locust will join the Ravens during training camp and stay through the first three preseason games (July 18-Aug. 21). She applied for the job through the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship.
Locust has been coaching football for 13 years, including at the high school, semi-pro and arena levels. She’s currently with the National Arena League’s Lehigh Valley Steelhawks, where she’s a Defensive Assistant, Defensive Lineman/Linebackers Coach and Co-Special Teams Coordinator.
“I’ve been doing this so long that up here, in this area, people don’t look at me as a woman coach,” Locust said. “In a backwards way, I find that to be the highest compliment. I want to be seen as a coach first, then a woman. I’m a coach that happens to be a woman.”
Grigelevich will also be with the Ravens throughout training camp. She sent her resume to many teams in March and the Ravens called to offer her an internship.
A double major (finance and applied physics), she founded Bryant Football’s Think Tank – a group of Bryant data science and applied analytics students who study team tendencies – two years ago and has expanded it to 33 members.
Grigelevich was specifically helpful to her team by creating weekly detailed charts showing when Bryant should and shouldn’t go for it on fourth down. The Bulldogs went for it the most times of any team in their conference and second-most in the FCS (trailing only Portland State).
“I really love football and I really love math, so I wanted to figure out how to do both,” Grigelevich said.