Female kicker to break NFL gender barrier

Next month, Lauren Silberman, a University of Wisconsin graduate and club soccer player at that school, will become the first woman to participate in an NFL Regional Scouting Combine.

When Lauren Silberman shows up at an NFL Regional Scouting Combine for a kicking tryout in New Jersey next month, her leg strength won't be the only facet drawing people's attention. Silberman also will make football history by becoming the first woman to participate in the event.

Silberman, 28, resides in New York City and is a University of Wisconsin graduate who played club soccer at the school. She received a master's degree at MIT and wrote her thesis on how video games can enhance a player's performance. She later founded a consulting company that helps athletes train by using video games.

Though her background differs from most competitors, Silberman will take advantage of a relatively new NFL rule focused on gender equity. The NFL approved a guideline in 2012 allowing women to play in the league, and Silberman's appearance at the New Jersey Regional Combine on March 2-3 will be the furthest anyone has taken the rule.

"I think it's fantastic," Jared Silberman, Lauren's father, told FOXSportsWisconsin.com when reached by phone Wednesday. "She's being humble about the whole thing, about her chances and everything. She's surprised there weren't more women that were doing this as of the announcement last year that they could do it. I wish her all the best. 

"I think it's wonderful, but I have concerns. I said, 'Lauren, on a kickoff, the guy gets through, you've got to go after him. That's a new dimension here.' But good for her that she's doing it."

Lauren Silberman told NFL.com on Tuesday that she wasn't aware she was the first female participant at a Regional Combine.

"The opportunity to attend this event could not be more exciting," she told NFL.com. "Getting to meet interesting people and perfect my technique from others could not be more rewarding. ... Regardless of the outcome of the tryout, I hope there is a way I can contribute and strengthen the league."

Regional Combines for position players are limited to 240 participants, and the cost is $225. Combines for specialists are $275 and are limited to 40 kickers and 50 punters.

Lauren's father said she had no background as a kicker but had made a 40-yard field goal before, which encouraged her to attend the Regional Combine, even if the odds are stacked against her.

"Lauren was a very good soccer player," Jared Silberman said. "She always had a big leg. That's where I think a lot of this is coming from."

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