Football Champion Odessa “OJ” Jenkins Is Creating Equity For Women & Girls

Football Champion Odessa “OJ” Jenkins Is Creating Equity For Women & Girls

Odessa "OJ" Jenkins stands firm in her progress and allows her winning streak, resilience, and consistency to help other women and girls gain financial equity opportunities in the sport of American football.

Odessa “OJ” Jenkins, the most winningest head coach in women’s tackle football history, is attempting to live the dream of creating equity for women and girls. With fortitude, the trailblazer in women’s football is breaking barriers down as founder of the Women’s National Football Conference and CEO of Bonfire Women.

A proud manifestation of her south-central L.A. upbringing, Jenkins is no stranger to loss and adversity, but she hails from a family who were adamant about rising out of the mud. She fostered her authentic gifts in safe spaces and learned the power of marketing through her musical father and in school athletics. Growing up, Jenkins played several sports but was advised that she needed to choose a sport other than football to go to college. After playing college basketball on scholarship, Jenkins was determined to pursue her love for football. And the rest is history.

Jenkins is a Hall of Famer, a seven-time National Champion, a two-time USA Football Team captain, and a three-time Team USA Gold Medalist. She stands firm in her progress and allows her winning streak, resilience, and consistency to help other women and girls gain financial equity opportunities in American football.

Canva Design by Atiya Jordan / Video by Odessa “OJ” Jenkins

“Sports teaches you, if you don’t execute, you will lose. And we need to be the same in business. If we don’t execute, if we don’t have a plan, it will not work,” Jenkins told BE of her experience on the field. “Stick to your plan, sis.”

“You can lose the little battles, you can lose the big war.. but you have to take Ls. And you can’t ask for it to be easier in some ways. You can’t ask to sprint through it. You have got to learn in your suffering, so that you don’t do it again.”


Source: Photo by Women’s National Football Conference (WNFC) / Head Coach Odessa “OJ” Jenkins with the Texas Elite Spartans during a “Got Her Back” Camp.

Founded in 2018, The Women’s National Football Club (WNFC) is celebrating its fifth season this year. There are 16 teams competing all over the country, and 70% are women of color. Jenkins serves as head coach of the Texas Elite Spartans, the defending champion. She is proud to have 30 current HBCU alums, including American gold medalists, working mothers, and attorney Michelle Dunham of Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. What’s more, WNFC Flag is launching in April.

“A lot of Black women and women of color gravitate to building the WNFC because it is a symbol [that] our mission is clear,” Jenkins told BE. “We want you to play [at] the highest level and get paid and make your life better. We aren’t kicking that responsibility to the next generation.”

Last season, WNFC represented 22 countries around the world. The organization is growing 100% each year while garnering large sponsorships with Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, Riddell Sports, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Thanks to numerous partnerships, Jenkins is passionate about the “Got Her Back” Girls Football Camp from Texas Elite Spartans, which held 12 camps last year for girls ages 6-18.

Source: Photo by Women’s National Football Conference

“Imagine having a brand where you get to introduce something no one has ever seen before. We are introducing more new people to the fact that women play football than almost any other brand,” Jenkins said. “Our league is not centered in what the world thinks beauty is.”


Source: Photo by Odessa “OJ” Jenkins

Co-founded by two dynamic women, Bonfire Women offers leadership programs that aims to equip women with “perspective skills, inspiration and clarity they need to matter more,” according to the company website. In 2023, Jenkins was tapped as CEO to build the company up by leveraging her skills in B2B SAAS tech, DEI, and team dynamics. She told BE that her intention was to lead her team in creating “a product that accelerates confidence, accelerates women’s belief in themselves, belief in equity, belief in community, and belief in their ability to lead in any place at work.”

“I think women of color and frankly B2B business companies that want to retain black women [and] want to retain women of color, know something to be true,” Jenkins explained. “One, when you have us in leadership and executive ranks, you do better financially. The numbers don’t lie.”

She continued, “Black women can come into the Bonfire ecosystem and talk about what it’s like. Talk about their fears, talk about being unsafe, talk about what they do about it. As Black women, especially those who want to lead, we take on so much of that pressure, that we don’t acknowledge the lack of fairness. In order to get on the other side of fear to courage, you have to acknowledge it.”


In the future, Jenkins is looking forward to more women leading and getting paid their worth, and more opportunities for women. As WNFC expands, another goal is to bring more WNFC football to the world by taking on content partnerships with platforms like Caffeine TV, a livestreaming platform for games, sports, and other entertainment.

“You don’t need license to be you, you don’t need license to do it like you want to do it,” Jenkins championed for all aspiring women leaders. “And I know it’s scary, especially when you are in environments when you are the only, but lean in on you how you are, what makes you special, what makes you comfortable, because that’s what people want anyway.”

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